Janice Friedman | Live At Kitano (feat. Janice Friedman, Victor Lewis & Ed Howard)

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Live At Kitano (feat. Janice Friedman, Victor Lewis & Ed Howard)

by Janice Friedman

An exciting piano jazz trio recorded live at a famous jazz club in Manhattan called Kitano. It is joyful, accessible jazz, very honest and very authentic. Three tracks have vocals: Lonely Sky, God Bless the Child and Wouldn't It Be Loverly.
Genre: Jazz: Piano Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Get Set (Live)
3:47 $0.99
2. Half and Half (Live)
4:57 $0.99
3. Lonely Sky (Live)
6:08 $0.99
4. Curacao (Live)
6:20 $0.99
5. My Man's Gone Now (Live)
4:49 $0.99
6. I Wish I Knew How It Felt to Be Free (Live)
4:35 $0.99
7. Nocturned Left (Live)
6:29 $0.99
8. God Bless the Child (Live)
6:10 $0.99
9. Ripplin' (Live)
4:53 $0.99
10. Wouldn't It Be Loverly (Live)
5:40 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes

Janice Friedman Trio: Live at Kitano
Janice Friedman on piano and vocals, Victor Lewis on drums, Ed Howard on bass

Playing tunes that I have loved and have visited many, many times to create what I hope is a mood in each one with such a seasoned, supportive, alive rhythm section in front of a loving, enthusiastic group of people NYC on a beautiful Steinway Grand and a view out of picture windows onto a NY landscape,. This was the setting for the story from beginning to end of this CD, Janice Friedman Trio: Live at Kitano.

The excitement of playing music the old fashioned way where we all play together, at the same time in front of people, expands exponentially when the folks in the room hop on board and joins you riding the wave. It’s the wave of music moving in time. It is euphoric when you trust all aspects of the experience, bring all of your energy to it, don’t control it but don’t lose control of it. This is downright exhilarating while also being humbling and even a bit scary for us playing. We need to hold onto our equilibrium, trust the moment, the space and the people we’re playing with and those listening that with love and acceptance you can make everything work.

This was a great night at Kitano.

Thank you to Victor Lewis on drums, Ed Howard on bass, Gino Moratti at Kitano, MP Kuo my mixing engineer, all others that helped make this CD happen and especially my husband David Prager and my parents who introduced me at very young age to the world of Jazz.

1) “Get Set” is one of my own tunes. It is a kind of introduction piece for the evening and swingin’ ala Oscar Peterson: happy and bright. It’s based on a rhythm tune (a song with the chord changes of Gershwin’s “I Got rhythm”) with an altered bridge. The blowing and groove is bebop. There is a shout chorus that feels like piano as big band, to send off Victor’s solo. I love big bands and I like to bring that inspiration to my trio arrangements. I was one of the few women to ever tour with a big band when I was on the road with The Woody Herman Orchestra. I’ve always loved the quote about my playing during the JVC Jazz Festival from John Wilson of The NY Times, “Explosive piano playing carrying the aura and variety of a big band with just bass and drums….”

2) Saxophonist Charles Davis wrote this fun tune, “Half and Half.” We begin it with a spacey ambience like the beginning of the story that is born from who knows where. Once the tune actually starts it feels like an Irish drone in 6/8 time with moments at the end of the melody that make you wonder whether it will be repeated or not. What could be better than a little “who knows what’s going to happen” moment? Once the improvising does get wound up it is reminiscent of the old Miles Davis tune “Milestones” or “So What”, what Jazz folks call a modal tune, where each section is just based in one harmony with a walking bass underneath. After my solo over a fiery rhythm section, Ed is left to a free form solo that connects us back to our Irish drone and the melody with its surprises.

3) “Lonely Sky” is one of mine. Inspired by Lee Charles Kelley’s words, it starts out with vocal and piano rubato before moving into a moody bossa nova supported by a very sensitive rhythm section. I was empathizing with the person walking and feeling alone on what I pictured was a beach in the evening with the sky painting pictures above that can represent all that we go through. I love Ed’s solo on this and frankly I am pretty happy with mine too. I hope you’ll agree that we created music at the supreme visceral level on this piece.

4) “Curacao” is what I call an “Indianapolis tune”- one of those ones that we used to play out there. I first transcribed it maybe 30 years ago. My mentor and friend, genius pianist, Claude Sifferlen, was a big fan of Claire Fischer who played with the great Cal Tjader on this afro-cuban tune. We hopefully brought that same kind of groove and energy. Following my solo and a great solo by Victor we come back in with a slinky, stanky, greezy walking bassline and take the song out that way. If you don’t know what I mean, give the song a listen. By the by, this was one of my first thing on the bus to listen to staples when I was on The Woody Herman Orchestra.

5) Sometimes harp sounding chords in a descending pentatonic pattern are just so pretty. This is how we start the story of “My Man’s Gone Now:” a gut wrenching moment in Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess about the slave experience. This arrangement took a long time to develop. Once we get past the intro, we start a groove in a mixed time signature born of wanting the music to sit when it really needs to and move when I felt it really needed to, in order to support the moodiness of the song.

6) One of the highlights of my career was playing duo piano with Marian McPartland on her radio show and in concerts around the country. At one point we played the Long Island Jazz Festival where both Marian and pianist, Dr. Billy Taylor, were the honorees. I have played this tune of Billy Taylor’s since high school. Like “My Man’s Gone Now” it reflects the African American experience. Done in a funky gospel way and building to a full out frenzy, this song speaks to all of us. Its title “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to be Free” is arguably the longest title of any song. Period.

7) “Nocturned Left” is another arrangement that took years. Oh arrangements are funny things. Today you like it one way, the next day you’re changing it, and, alas, the next day you’re sure it was best where you first started. I took the beautiful Chopin nocturne in F minor, Opus 55, turned it into a waltz, straightened up the form to make it comfortable to improvise on, swung some of the big sections, adjusted the chords, put in an improvised recitative spot where Chopin had one written and added some swinging sections while still harkening back to the original Chopin nocturne. Here in the biz, we say it is Jazzical. It’s a show stopper of sorts, I believe. Once again Ed takes just an amazing solo and hopefully I did it justice as well

8) I know that taking on “God Bless the Child” vocally is a risky business beings that Billy Holiday did such a quintessential version. My take on it has a bit of an easy going greezy, sassy, bluesy groove with lots of moments inside the sections to feature Ed and some changed harmonies on the bridge. It’s pretty far from the original but I think it suggests the same message.

9) “Ripplin’” is one of mine. It’s a very long form in a ¾ time feel. Like a river, it keeps going with turns and water flowing over rocks and around bends; some peaceful times, some excitement, some scary parts. I love rivers. My solo, very duet-like with Ed, is followed by Victor’s accompanied drum solo. After that we gently take the song out, ready for the last neck of our trip and our story….

10) I’ve chosen ten tunes from the two sets we performed at Kitano as I like the symmetry. I let this song, “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”, go back and forth between a slightly frenetic double time feel and a straight swing feel as if, like the character Liza in the story of “My Fair Lady”, she is switching back and forth between feeling her life with all of its insanity and daydreaming of a better way. What I love though is that I wasn’t thinking of that when I came up with the arrangement. I only realized it afterwards. This is the great thing about stepping aside and letting your subconscious do the work! I end this song with the spoken words, “Got it,” a reference to the original show’s point that she takes on the challenge and they can then all claim “I think she’s got it.” Here in this performance at Kitano, I like to think we took our story from the “Get ready, Get Set, Go” of our first tune to the place where we can proudly say, “Got it!”



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She has it
Janice Friedman has everything anyone could want in a musician. Chops galore with taste and more importantly a beautiful touch. (you can't teach that) The selection on this CD is eclectically fresh and pleasing from her own wonderful compositions, to Gershwin, Cal Tjader, Billy Taylor, and even Chopin. And...good God...she sings! The music world needs more of her.