Wilf's Restaurant & Bar - Saturday, July 29, 2006
David Friesen Trio
David Friesen - Bass
Dan Gaynor - Piano
Rob Davis - Tenor Sax
Wilf's is an elegant restaurant and lounge attached to Union Station in downtown Portland, featuring excellent food and wonderful jazz. It is non-smoking and many weekend nights some of the finest Portland players can be heard here. The atmosphere is decidedly elegant and inviting for conversation and listening.
This is the first time I've heard David Friesen or anyone like him, in the contemplative end of straight ahead jazz, here at Wilf's.
Most of the tunes are David's, and they are all gorgeous, rich and accessible, yet sometimes ask more from the listener than many are willing to provide. They are seldom musically challenging or in your face. Instead they could fade into background music, as is happening tonight with several parties of talkers at the poorly occupied tables, missing precious jewels of music.
I got here just before the second set. They started with an obvious original of David's. Who knows the title? They are not announced. It was a bluesy angular piece, verging on dissonance in the theme statement. The first solo is Rob's, executed beautifully, of course. Then Dan takes the reins, and the angular structure goes even more angular, into a dissonant and playful romp. When David takes his solo it explores a new set of changes hidden in the original theme, and exposes a beauty I had not noticed until then, and then they return to the unadorned theme, and we have learned something about life, and these exquisite musicians.
The next several tunes were even more achingly beautiful than the first, and we got to see emotional shades in ballad forms, and absolutely wonderful soloing and ensemble play at its highest level.
At one point they launched into the bebop standard, Airegin at a breakneck speed and nailed it. All solos were amazing. Then they returned to David's beautiful writing. Rob's thematics and solo's are so beautiful. Dan's piano work gets more wonderful at each hearing. He is a fabulous young player, and a good friend. David is a National Treasure in my opinion. These songs seem to ask, even beg for lyrics.
These musicians are full of new ideas, and they all have something to say. It is extremely refreshing, and to this listener, even nourishing.
I'm so glad I made it.