New York cellist and composer Erik Friedlander will turn 50 this year. One of the most acclaimed artists on the New York music scene for the past two decades, Friedlander is celebrating his birthday on July 1 with two performances at the Montreal Jazz Festival and the release of a single, "Aching Sarah," which will be available for free as a download on Friedlander's website.
The single will also be for purchase on iTunes, eMusic, and at Amazon as of July 1.
"Aching Sarah" features the exquisite trumpet playing of Michael Leonhart (Steely Dan, David Byrne, Lenny Kravitz) . Leonhart and Friedlander met while working together on Yoko Ono's recent CD, Between My Head and The Sky, and began exchanging sessions, playing on each others' projects. Friedlander has been captivated by the trumpet/cello combination since his first-ever recording back in 1980, bassist/composer Harvie S's quintet recording, Underneath It All(Gramavision). He continued to explore the creative potential of the two instruments in his later work with Dave Douglas and the String Band projects of the late 90's (Parallel Worlds, Five, Convergence). "Aching Sarah"also features the playing of longtime Friedlander associates Trevor Dunn (bass) and Satoshi Takeishi (percussion.)
"Aching Sarah" is part of Friedlander's Cutting-Room Floor Series. "I imagined that characters from movies who are cut from a film live on," he explains. "With lives half realized, they exist in a kind of limbo, unable to live out the arc of their scripted lives."
Some might indulge a mid-life crisis with a new sports car, but others fully hit their stride as they reach middle age. Friedlander, who falls firmly into that latter category, will fill his busy fiftieth year with numerous performances and releases, including a new CD, aptly titled Fifty. Fifty is a series of miniatures - some as brief as 7 seconds - that are snapshots of stylistic variety. The piece was composed for a commission from the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco and reworked and remastered for this release. Fifty will be released on September 18 on Skipstone Records.
Joining Erik on the project are Jennifer Choi on violin, Sylvie Courvoisier on piano, Trevor Dunn on bass and Mike Sarin on drums.
Cellist Erik Friedlander is a composer and an improviser in his own right, as well as a first-call studio player. During the last 25 years he has worked with a diverse array of improvisational, jazz and performance artists such as John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich, and Laurie Anderson; his career is also marked by relevance outside the close-knit NY improvising scene with contributions to hundreds of recordings including CDs by The Mountain Goats, Courtney Love, Maxwell, and Loudon Wainwright III.
Friedlander's 12 CDs as a leader most recently include Block Ice & Propane, his solo cello reinterpretation of American roots music; The Broken Arm Trio, a trio tribute to jazz bassist Oscar Pettiford; and Volac, a romantic collection of virtuoso solo cello pieces by John Zorn.
Friedlander began his fiftieth year with a 12-day tour of Europe with his Broken Arm Trio. He then traveled to Spain for concerts with the Masada String Trio. In June, Friedlander performed John Zorn's Volac at Canada's RE:Flux festival, and performed five concerts of his solo show, Block Ice & Propane,at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina, in June. In July he will join Zorn at the Montreal Jazz Festival for a Masada Festival. Later in the summer Erik will perform Block Ice at the Kilkenny Arts Festival in Ireland.
It's been a busy year in the studio for Friedlander as well. Earlier in the year he recorded a new Masada String Trio CD and he just completed the recording of a new CD for his own SkipStone Records label--a quartet featuring Doug Wamble on slide guitar with Trevor Dunn, and Mike Sarin. The new band, called Bone Bridge, will release their new CD later in the year.
Another of Friedlander's many new projects will be the August digital release of Alchemy, which was issued earlier this year on 10" vinyl by the German label Honir. Digital Alchemy is a collection of solos and atmospheric, rich soundtrack work, including bonus tracks that feature Friedlander's collaborations with the Italian film composer Teho Teardo.