Circle 3, bassist David Friesen’s exploratory trio is no ordinary threesome. On Interaction this is principally a chordless trio – “principally”, because Mr Friesen sometimes deems it fit to add piano to the proceedings – where considerable musical exploration takes place as the music progresses and melodies are tossed around, now feather-light and wispy as cirrus clouds; or melodies that turn dense with sonic narratives, like foreboding cumulonimbus clouds. On top of all of this melodic content are emotional layers contained in the colours and textures, found in the musical articulation by each musician – driven, of course, by Mr Friesen’s music, which veers between the temporal and the spiritual.
As a bassist, Mr Friesen is highly articulate. His signature Hemage Bass which has clearly been designed to meet his musical character and personality. When this collides with his musical vision we get music that is highly evocative and sensitive or affected by a myriad things; some of these are seemingly existential and others that arise out of profound consideration. This accounts for the music that might seem meditative – as in the balladry of “Exclusively Yours” in which the music relies heavily on dense tone-textures that arise from a rumbling articulation. Elsewhere Mr Friesen employs a significantly lighter touch to produce infinitely more subtle colours and textures which might evoke fluttering, diaphanous textures – such as in “Soft as Silk” and “Distant Shores”. Lest it be suggested that this music is almost always droll, Mr Friesen together with his Circle 3 Trio (in both configurations) also comes up with a myriad ways to swing – as on “New Tune Blue” and “Skip Trio”.
All of the above is, of course, suggests that Mr Friesen is a highly sensitive musician. This is reflected in his music and playing – whether on bass or piano. His compositions have an exquisite architectural form. But more than anything else it is his senses that seem to do the creative work. Indeed it seems that his compositions are produced by the raw ends of his nerves rather than the soft tip of graphite on paper. All of this comes to fruition when he plays, combining virtuosity with sensitivity. It is in this endeavour that saxophonist Joe Manis plays a key role as do the drummers Charlie Doggett (on Disc One) and Reuben Bradley. The saxophonist plays the role of different characters (or narrators) depending on the song, the drummers are called upon not only to play time, but also enhance the narrative. These musicians play a key role in enhancing the soundscape of these discs.
It is clear from the outset that all of the musicians are completely attuned to Mr Friesen’s vision and artistry. Their interpretation of this music is extraordinarily articulate. For his part Mr Friesen creates an extraordinary space for the other musicians to express themselves. In turn, each of the musicians responds with idiomatic playing that eschews grooves and licks. Each interpretation suggests that this music is deeply interiorised, is informed by thoughtfulness and with fully-engaged emotions. The result is performances that come from a special place and enhance the already complex beauty of this music.
Track list – Disc One – 1: Neves; 2: Cross Fire; 3: Sequence; 4: Flight of the Angels; 5: New Tune Blue; 6: Exclusively Yours; 7: 1969 Rolls Royce; 8: In House; 9: Interaction; 10: Soft as Silk; 11: Skip Trip; 12: No Dollars, No Cents; 13: Evening Spring. Disc Two – 1: Song For Tristan; 2: Flight Of The Angels; 3: Skip Trip; 4: Going Forth; 5: At Last, At Rest; 6: Off Center; 7: Distant Shores; 8: Basic Strategy; 9: My Faith My Life
Personnel – Disc One – David Friesen: Hemage bass, piano (3, 7, 10, 13); Joe Manis: tenor and soprano saxophones; Charlie Doggett: drums. Disc Two – David Friesen: Hemage bass, piano (4, 9); Joe Manis: tenor saxophone; Reuben Bradley: drums
Released – 2019
Label – Origin Records (Origin 82792)
Runtime – Disc One 1:01:36 Disc Two 51:27