The first disc opens with reworked material from various artists as “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” by Nirvana, which he plays in a circular pattern, the identifying riff done with a full chordal attack. Guitarist Lionel Loueke is covered with “Benny’s Tune,” Fristoe moving over to electric piano. He stays on the electric keys for “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” as The Beatles opus goes through a total transformation, becoming a sojourn into experimental fusion. But it is his acoustic piano work on tunes as diverse as the odd-metered “Alone Together,” and the ballad “Wrong Together,” that stimulates the ears.
The accompanists on most of the tracks are his regular working band, bassist Tim Ruiz, and drummer Richard Cholakian. This lineup is changed on “Caravan,” which brings in Daleton Lee on drums, augmented by percussionist Ilya Janos. These two return on the second disc, taking the samba “Ela é Carioca” for a tropical stroll; and re-appear on “Speak Low.”
Disc two also exhibits that Fristoe is quite comfortable going solo as he does on his original ballads “Better Lately,” and “Interlude,” revealing a serene side to his talent. “Seventh-Hour Walkup,” goes back to the electric instruments, with flashes of prog-rock influences. The straight ahead jazz leanings on “Lambastin'” another Fristoe composition, showcases his grasp of be-bop piano, as does the standard “Beautiful Love.” The Latin tinge appears on “Tres Palabras,” an undulating glimpse at romance south of the border.
There is a lot of music in this package, which speaks volumes for Fristoe, as he appears to be locked into perpetual engagement. His friend and producer, Joe Peine, says it best: “His playing combines intellect, fiery technique, driving grooves, soulfulness, tenderness, thoughtful harmonization, naturally played alternative meters, and he is full of ideas.” So, if ever in Houston, go check out the best pianist in town, Art Fristoe
Art Fristoe Trio – DOUBLEDOWN: My first listen to Art’s superb jazz piano work on this double-album (hence the title, I assume) is a real contrast with his West Texas upbringing… it’s hard to believe, in a certain sense, that he developed such strong jazz sensibilities in his home-town, Amarillo… but I can say with absolute certainty that he has… just listen to the splendid work on “Benny’s Tune“… excellent drum intro leads into great bass and keyboard interplay & takes me (way) back to my earliest jazz listening/playing days… absolute cool! Art grew up around jazz (his dad, jazz bassist Joe Fristoe was a major influence, I’m sure). He’s a BIG guy (6′ 6”), but that presence is offset by a talent for digging down deep into the heart of a tune and making it SING to your ears… I felt that the best example of that is the totally mellow “Seventh-Four Walkup“, a great Fristoe original… it’s definitely my personal favorite of the seventeen tunes offered up for your jazz enjoyment; a truly beautiful piece of jazz that will spin over and over in your headphones – the release date is 2 June, 2017, so be prepared to get this one! I give Art and his crew a MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, with an “EQ” (energy quotient) rating of 4.99 for this album. Get more information on the CD Baby page for the CD. Rotcod Zzaj
http://www.musiczoom.it/?p=27634 – .WSwDktykK70
The Vinyl Anachronist
August 4, 2017
Art Fristoe Trio’s DoubleDown on CD
Bill Evans playing Nirvana songs?
That’s the first thing I thought of when I listened to Texan pianist Art Fristoe’s new CD, DoubleDown. His trio, which includes bassist Daleton Lee and alternating drummers Richard Cholakian and Ilya Janos, starts off this 2-CD set with their version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and it’s something to behold. These three skilled musicians have turned an angry grunge anthem into something lyrical and full of sadness, and they did so without needlessly deconstructing the rock classic. (You’ll recognize the song just a few bars in.)
This rich, generous hunk of music adheres to that same commitment to unbridled emotion–“tenderness” is used in the liner notes and it’s the right word to use. Fristoe specializes in taking familiar tunes and doing so much more than “putting a new spin” on them. As the trio tackles everything from “Caravan” to a couple of Beatles tunes (“Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Blackbird”), my first instinct is oh no, not this, and then you hear those feelings and marvel at just how honest and surprising these songs truly are.
Fristoe, who is the son of jazz bassist Joe Fristoe, is also remarkable for his mere presence. Touted as a “gentle giant,” he is a massive man, 6′ 6″ tall, with supposedly enormous hands that cover the keys with a focused grace. He’s known for his stunning knowledge of all types of music, and it shows in the outstanding choices he makes here. Even the aforementioned cover of “Caravan” is striking–I feel like I’ve heard two dozen different versions over the last year, but this is the one that sticks in my mind the most. Fristoe starts off purposely guarded and jumpy and stiff, and then the energy slowly unfolds into a mass burst of excitement, still terse but with a swiftness that is incredibly ornate for a mere trio.
I’ve never been a proponent of quantity over quality, but I really enjoy the large amount of music that wound up on this disc. For me, double albums often require more than one listening session in order to absorb everything, but DoubleDown is a CD where you push play and then forget about what you’re going to do over the next couple of hours.
thursday, august 10, 2017
Art Fristoe Trio, DoubleDown
In the course of my sometimes meandering existence as music writer, musician, poetic inventor and liver of life, I sometimes realize how lucky I am. Somewhat broke, maybe, but never bent by the wheel of harsh necessity. Or at least not now after a long struggle to realize my own self-actualization. I stand before you proud to represent the best of the music of today. Not all of it, but a vital corner of it.
An example springs forward for our consideration right now. It is a double CD by pianist Art Fristoe and his trio. Double Down (Merry Lane Records 2-CDs) is the album by name. It pits the very inventive pianistic and electric pianistic stylistics of Art Fristoe with the totally appropriate accompaniment of electric bassist Tim Ruiz and drummer Daleton Lee or Richard Cholakian. Ilya Janos joins the three on percussion for several cuts as well.
There is strength and interpretive, inventive poetry to be heard in the judicious and appealing mix of Fristoe originals and standards from a wide spectrum of possibilities old and newer. So we get “Alone Together” and “Caravan” but also “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “Blackbird.”
What is a constant is the rightness and creativity of the arrangements, with sometimes a jazz-rock tinge, other times a central swingingness, the cohesiveness of the trio and Art Fristoe’s piano strengths. He can solo in a neo-bop post-early Corea zone, do some very interesting block and semi-block interpretations and combine a vertical harmonic development and convincingness with a line and melody-interpretive zoning that marks him as very musical in the best jazz-sensible ways. And Art can sing nicely, too. Listen to “Blackbird!”
The music comes across as something accessible to many, yet a fully pleasurable outing for even the most discerning among us. Good going!