Friday, October 7, 2016

Don Friedman – Booker Little Tribute on NEW VELLE RECORDS (2016)

In 1961, the young (23 years old) trumpet phenomenon, Booker Little, recorded two extraordinary albums.  Booker was a visionary musician, possessing a close to flawless technique, a burnished, round and beautiful sound and a purely modern conception. His music was completely original and deeply lyrical. Although those two records, "Out Front" and "Booker Little and Friend" are not canonical works, they are known to the initiated as diamonds, and have stood for 56 years as testament of Booker's genius.  They did no less than point to entire new worlds of harmonic and emotional possibility in American music.  Booker Little died that same year from complications arising from a blood disorder.  Those recordings feature two of his closest collaborators Max Roach and Eric Dolphy on Out Front as well as musicians such as Julian Priester, Ron Carter Pete LaRoca, Reggie Workman.  And on both records the young pianist Don Friedman was featured.

 Don passed away from pancreatic cancer in June.   Don was my piano teacher when I first moved to NYC.  I am blessed to have known him and studied with him, he was a brilliant, humble, spirited and compassionate person.  We are enormously grateful that he recorded this project and proud to offer it as part of Newvelle's first season. – Elan Mehler

 Phil Palombi (photo by William Semeraro)

When we were first looking for projects to produce, at the very top of my list was a project with Don Friedman, returning to some of these beautiful Booker compositions. For two days last September, Don brought an extraordinary rhythm section featuring Phil Polombi and Shinnosuke Takahashi to East Side Sound. They weren’t trying to recreate sounds from the record but really used these tunes as jumping off points in the true jazz tradition.

 Shinnosuke Takahashi (photo by William Semeraro)

Don Friedman's final studio recording is available exclusively on vinyl and only from Newvelle Records.  This record is a call back to one of his earliest recordings, but it is also a testament to an artist whose strength and heart were a force and an inspiration throughout his incredible career.