The piano-led trio is a staple of jazz. And when it’s
presented with freshness and energy, the results can be wonderful. So it
is with Janice Friedman Trio’s Live at Kitano (Consolidated
Artists Productions, 2015).
Pianist Janice Friedman is joined on this date by drummer Victor Lewis
and bassist Ed Howard. The songs are recorded from a July 20, 2011,
performance at Jazz at Kitano in New York City.
On your mark, “Get Set” begins the show in delightful fashion. This
brief selection showcases Friedman’s ability to get the audience engaged
from the first note. One of three Friedman originals, it’s a promise of
things to come. Think Bill Evans, Erroll Garner or any of several other
classic jazz pianists. About midway through is a playful call and
response between Friedman and Lewis.
The trio takes on Cal Tjader’s “Curucao.” The arrangement is both
haunting and adventurous, the latter not adventurous musically so much
as it inspires visualization of a trip to an exotic place. The tourists
pause to watch street performers, represented by Lewis’ solo.
The trio also covers songs by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, Dr.
Billy Taylor and Dick Dallas, Billy Holliday and Arthur Herzog Jr.,
among others. Friedman sings on three tracks, including “Lonely Sky,”
which she co-wrote with Lee Charles Kelley.
“Kitano is an intimate, listening room with an educated audience,”
Friedman says. “There’s nothing like the energy you get from playing in
front of enthusiastic people. Like riding a wave, all is done on the
spot – no hiding, no safety net, completely honest.”
Friedman was brought up on piano trio music. Her parents listened to
several of the greats. In addition to Evans, Garner and Taylor, she was
exposed to Ahmad Jamal, Marian McPartland and Oscar Peterson. Live
at Kitano is her fifth release as a leader.