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Erik Friedlander: Quake

The cello is generally considered to be an ideal balladeer, with its golden, voicelike midrange and achingly tender sustained lines, but these same qualities have led many to conclude that the instrument cannot take on a bolder personality. Erik Friedlander, however, has shown throughout his career that the personality of a cello is determined more than anything else by the personality of its cellist, and his new album as a leader, Quake, proves that even when surrounded by strong, imaginative personalities, his cello is anything but reticent.

Friedlander, alto saxophonist Andy Laster and bassist Stomu Takeishi comprise the cellist’s Topaz trio; for Quake’s compositions, though, Friedlander wanted additional rhythmic power, and Stomu’s brother, Satoshi Takeishi, was enlisted to help out on percussion. This was a good decision; Satoshi can both find just the right atmospheric rattle or twinkle to establish a mood, as on “Glass Bell,” and lay down fast-paced rhythmic modulations that sound seamless and organic, as on the opening “Consternation.” Stomu, for his part, deftly establishes a fraternal counterpoint on tracks like “Quake” and “Wire.” Both sometimes accompany their counterparts and sometimes pull the rug out from under them to see what they’ll do.

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