Forgotten series: Erik Friedlander – Block Ice and Propane (2007)

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As a jazz cellist, you may not think you’ve heard Friedlander — but you’ve heard this dude and probably didn’t know it, I would bet.

He’s been all over the music industry backing artists from Dave Douglas and John Zorn to Alanis Morissette and Joss Stone. If you’ve heard popular music, and even unpopular music, in the past 20 years or so, you’ve likely heard him somewhere and not known it.

In between all those sessions, he’s quietly worked on a fascinating catalog of his own music, from the multi-cultural Topaz group to straight solo albums of just him on cello. This is one of the latter, a disc of solo recordings on which the cellist plays his instrument in pretty much every possible way a stringed instrument could be played — bowed, plucked, and even strummed like a guitar.

While that makes for interesting listening for those intrigued by unusual techniques, what should appeal to listeners is how grounded he makes his playing: He is no mere chart-reader.

Friedlander’s gift is that he connect emotionally with the listener, and on Block Ice and Propane he blends his considerable talents in jazz and avant garde with genres not necessarily associated with the cello such as Americana and bluegrass. It kind of sounds like a nightmare, but hearing it proves exactly the opposite. It’s easily one of the more intriguing listens found in jazz’s 2007 releases.

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Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson has contributed to Blogcritics, and maintained a series of stand-alone sites including Known Johnson, Everything is a Mess and others. He studied both creative writing and then studio art at Arizona State. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Tom Johnson
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