The master of the eight-string acoustic guitar follows a laudable collection of originals performed by his Core trio with a set of pop standards. Core Bacharach, as the title gives away, is a batch of classic tunes all written by Burt Bacharach and his lyricist, the late Hal David. This is a good choice for source material; with the passage of time the songs of Bacharach/David seem to sound even better now than they did then, during a golden era of songwriting teams that included Goffin and King, Jagger and Richards and of course, Lennon & McCartney.
The Core, as before, comprises of Fried, Michael Lavoie on acoustic bass and Miki Matsuki on drums. These aren’t heavy tunes but they have a lot of harmonic nuance, which is why songs like “Wives and Lovers” and “Alfie” have been exploited by jazz musicians for many years, and now, Fried & Core take their turn doing so. Since this trio has their own nimble, fluid sound led by Fried’s harmonically full and pleasing style that comes from him having two extra strings to play with, they are able to do new things with these old songs.
Fried’s guitar is the right kind of instrument to bring out the rich harmonies of songs such as a bossa nova styled “I Say A Little Prayer” and varying tempo-ed “What The World Needs Now Is Love.” And of course, he tackles “Alfie,” but all alone, and it’s rendered in a sweet, sensitive way that does the song justice.
Lavoie takes the melodic reins for “Make It Easy On Yourself” and I think Matsuki does tasteful rhythm work on “The Look Of Love.” Together they create a funky stride that turns “What’s New Pussycat” inside out that’s played in tandem with the usual swing tempo of the song.
Because of Fred Fried’s uncommon fingerpicking style that delivers the full melody with ample backing from the Core, Core Bacharach is an enjoyable outing where the material suits this band like hand in glove. Another winning effort by Fred Fried and Core.
Core Bacharach hits the streets August 27 by Ballet Tree Jazz Productions. Visit Fred Fried’s website for more info.