Expect no pyrotechnics. Bassist David Friesen, pianist Greg Goebel and drummer Charlie Doggett convey intense feeling through subtlety and craft, their finely honed chops on display to enhance the artistic excellence that permeates this set.
Friesen’s bass serves as the primary rhythm instrument on most of these outings, establishing contexts that range from straight-ahead swing through modified funk to Spanish-tinged, off-center lopes. His solos—sure-fingered, exploratory, firmly directional—elaborate on both the rhythmic and melodic ideas at hand, many of which he himself plays a dominant role in establishing. Both Goebel (the actual lead voice throughout) and Doggett add texture and dimension, sometimes complementing Friesen, sometimes challenging him to switch direction and respond to their proddings. Even a ballad like “Soft as Silk,” so gently caressed that it barely seems to have a rhythm at all in the conventional sense, reveals itself a chiaroscuro of pulses and aural shadings, its somber minor-key theme rescued from bathos by the firmness of Goebel’s touch and the dexterity with which both Friesen and Doggett interweave with his gently ascending chords and single-note interludes.