This trio album came about as an offshoot of an Art-House film Daniel Jircik and I were making with Bob Dorough. The film is a wild fantastical musical about the nature of everything. It was filmed in a gritty south Telephone Road diner. Art made a major contribution to the film as an actor, pianist and vocalist. Bob and I were both duly thrilled to see Art in his element with his usual trio, Tim Ruiz and Richard Cholakian. Daleton Lee is also in fine form here filling out the percussion duties on additional tracks. Piano trios are a dime a dozen so we really were not prepared to be blown away, but we were indeed.
Art comes from a hard-swinging West Texas tradition. Born in the West Texas town of Amarillo, he is the son of jazz bassist Joe Fristoe. He later moved to Houston and was an instructor at The High School for Performing and Visual Arts and where he firmly established himself as one of Houston’s top jazz musicians.
Our first project included a live performance of standards at an old boxing gym in an industrial part of Houston. We brought in a gorgeous Schimmel grand piano, and my partner in crime going back to the early 90’s, legendary sound recording engineer Andy Bradley brought out his gear. .
The term gentle giant is such a cliché I hate to use it, but in Art’s case it holds multiple meaning. He is physically 6’6”, his hands are massive and his touch, time-feel are outstanding. Art is a serious student with an encyclopedic knowledge of music. He studied classical vocal as a tenor and later focused on jazz piano, taught jazz piano at HSPVA, owns the Bill Evans songbook and can’t be stumped when it comes to jazz history. His playing combines intellect, fiery technique, driving grooves, soulfulness, tenderness, thoughtful harmonization, hip alternative meters played naturally and ideas, ideas, ideas. The reworking of popular tunes in the parlance of the day resurrects an old long standing jazz tradition and ensures a fresh take on the art form. Art is a huge intellect and life force that can play an ethereal tender ballad one moment and swing the chandeliers off the ceiling the next.
This is a recording that has been long in the planning, and one that we are particularly proud of.