REVIEW: Erik Friedlander plays John Zorn’s Masada Book Two @ the Shedd (Eugene, OR – 1/8/11)
FYI… PHOTOS of the SHOW at the BOTTOM
NYC-based cellist Erik Friedlander is a favorite musician of mine. I have only a handful of his solo works, but he shows up in the subtlest of places… I mean, if I do a quick search for “Friedlander” in my iTunes, I show 32 and a half hours of music (Tzadik Records & DMG are a key component of my monthly music budget). He has worked with Courtney Love, Dar Williams, the Mountain Goats and many more… but I primarily know his work in the NYC jazz & avant-garde scene: Dave Douglas, Ikue Mori/Death Praxis, Jamie Saft, Yuka Honda, Wadada Leo Smith, Tim Sparks, Ned Rothenberg, and of course… John Zorn.
With John Zorn, Erik has been involved in several Masada incarnations, notably the Masada String Trio (with Greg Cohen & Mark Feldman) and the Bar Kokhba Sextet. When John Zorn was done writing music for the original acoustic Masada Quartet, he sat down and penned over 300 songs that became the Masada Book Two: Book of Angels. I’ve talked a lot about Masada Book Two on this blog… it is the most consistently amazing set of music out on Tzadik (John Zorn’s 503(c)3 record label). MBT is essentially John Zorn’s Masada tunes, covered by those around him. Some of my favorites are Secret Chiefs 3’s Xaphan, Bar Kokhba Sextet’s Lucifer, and Medeski Martin & Wood’s Zaebos… but quite honestly, all sixteen releases (to date) have been stunning and essential.
Erik was one of the early invites to the Masasa Book Two Club… releasing Volac (volume 8 in 2005). The John G. Shedd Institute for the Arts in Eugene commissioned Erik Friedlander to come in a perform these Volac songs last night. I had seen Erik in Portland in 2009 with his photography & music piece – Block Ice & Propane (his music set to his father Lee Friedlander’s photography); so I knew Erik would deliver a wonderful performance. Set-up in the Shedd Recital Hall, just off the courtyard, Erik went on around 7:40 and entranced us with his playing…
He was playing his carbon-fiber “alien cello.” I imagine that was his easiest axe to bring for a two-night Seattle & Eugene weekend before heading back home. Its sound was quite similar to a wooden cello – at least to my untrained ears. Per Erik, it’s not as ornery or sensitive as a wooden cello.
The Masada songs have a definitive Jewish klezmer feel in points of the melodies. Erik’s arrangements and playing definitely bring in a chamber music and jazz improviser aspect to the Volac songs. He played roughly half of the songs bowed, and the rest either plucked or strummed. Switching between the styles for each song for the most part – as is one of John Zorn’s “rules” which Erik joked about. Hush, don’t tell John, but Erik acknowledged that he broke a few “rules” during the night.
Setlist: about 70 minutes
- Anahel (the 1st written by Zorn for MBT)
- Encore: Sidriel
Essentially the entire Volac album, just in a different order. Erik doesn’t make it out to the Pacific Northwest as much as I’d like, but when he does make it out, I’m going. If you love cello or other chamber music – you should go, too! Nary a disappointment. Oh, also check out his free podcast First Light which features a weekly early morning improvisation.
more photos below
The Appropriate Linkage:
- Erik Friedlander’s Site
- Erik Friedlander’s First Light podcast (*free*)
- Erik Friedlander’s Social Media Links (see below)
- My Other Related Reviews~
- Erik Friedlander’s Block Ice & Propane (Portland – Sept 2009)
- The Shedd’s Site / Facebook
Next show for me… Reptet (jazz combo from Seattle) at Luckey’s in Eugene, Friday, January 14th!
ERIK FRIEDLANDER PHOTOS
all pictures (cc) 2011 Daniel Temmesfeld,
you may use freely under a creative commons attribution
(click for larger)