The first thing that strikes you about the pianism of Danielle Friedman is that her fingers seem not so much to touch the keys of the piano as they do to leap and land on them; sometimes causing the fingertips to caress them and at other times to depress them with an existential torque that can cause the notes to pirouette and spin causing powering each black dot to acquire angular acceleration. It’s as if all of her music begins and ends with a solitary note morphing into some kind of ballerina leaping her way to an extraordinary path through the air around the piano. It is this extraordinary vector of the music of School of Fish that separates Miss Friedman from most musicians of her generation; and a characteristic that seems to suggest she is made entirely of music.
The inseparability of music and dance is what every musician strives for. Certainly those who are drawn to the orbit of pianists from the stride pianists to Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor exhibit this admirable quality in enormous measure. Miss Friedman may not aspire to “sound” like a jazz pianist, but she is drawn to the improvisational aspect of the music and in this regard she sounds like a force of nature with ideas flowing as if they are compelled to surge from her mind’s mind through to the nerve endings of her fingers. But there is something more: Miss Friedman’s music is born of a wellspring of great sensitivity. It is fresh as if imagined as much by the playful child in her as it is by one who sees the profundity of humanity all at once. Although all of the music of this recording is replete with these characteristics, the chart “Morning + Night” best describes it and then some.
It is this aspect that makes the music not only compelling but that each miniature unfurls with a lyricism that can only be described as the poetry of emotion. Bassist Aron Caceres and drummer are fully attuned to Miss Friedman’s vision and artistry as she continues to ring in the changes in mood, structure and tempo, making for a constantly compelling programme. The considerable degree of balance and integration of melody, harmony and rhythm, of composition and improvisation, of exploration and improvisation, individuality and tradition is impressively maintained throughout as Miss Friedman references not only the Jazz tradition, but also draws from all things classical, which seems to be just as integral to Miss Friedman’s musical impetus.
Track list – 1: Shalom Ani Danielle; 2: 5 Trolls; 3: Morning + Night; 4: Mind your Mendel; 5: Dread Change; 6: David’s Favorite Song; 7: Piece (Of Mind); 8: Ach Leshalom
Personnel – Danielle Friedman: piano and compositions; Aron Caceres: contrabass; David Jimenez: drums
Released – 2018
Label – Independent
Runtime – 49:25