Eric Friedlander's Topaz at Kerrytown


One of the top cellists in jazz, Eric Friedlander, visited the Kerrytown Concert House on March 25 with his new quartet Topaz. It was their first concert on a nationwide tour and it was a privilege to hear them. The group has a very mellow yet distinctive sound, with a front line of cello and alto backed by electric bass and percussion. It was avant-garde with a soft touch and free blowing combined with the discipline of arranged passages and selections of reasonable length. 

Friedlander's masterful handling of the cello was the main attraction. His amplified cello was at times quite powerful, but mostly he let it sing melodiously. On a song dedicated to a Persian singer, Friedlander showed his soulful side, while on Miles Davis' "Tout de Suite" he carefully built up a solo of great intensity. On the latter he was backed by the laid back rhythms of the Takeishi brothers — Stomu on bass and Satoshi on percussion. Satoshi, who played sitting directly on the stage floor, is a very inventive and tasteful player of all kinds of percussion. His four years of studying Colombian folk music and his Japanese background most likely have inspired his unique approach to percussion. Stomu's use of the electric bass was very sensitive and perfectly attuned to the group sound and the acoustics of the small room. Altoist Andy Laster started out somewhat tentatively in the first set, but showed more emotional intensity in the second set. Overall, this quartet is a very interesting group made up of highly skilled craftsmen. 

photograph by Lars Björn