Dave Frishberg

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You’re a lucky guy

Another great swing album from Frishberg, with the distinct advantage of tenorist Al Cohn during his darker late period, in combination with one of the most harmonically interesting players in mainstream jazz, namely Bob Brookmeyer on trombone. The album opens with an irrepressible version of the Fats Waller number ‘Truckin’’, and the other highlights are the strange and melancholy ‘The Underdog’, as well as the title track, which is pure feel-good music, although not of the obvious kind.
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Let’s Eat Home

This is the best all-round Frishberg album. It is essentially mainstream swing, but not the precious kind that tries to reintroduce an earlier style, since some of the musicians were there first time around, and more modern elements are drawn upon freely where appropriate. Veteran trumpeter Snooky Young and valve trombonist Rob McConnell combine perfectly in the front-line, and Frishberg demonstrates that although he is primarily a singer-songwriter, he is also a first-rate jazz pianist. The highlights happen early on: ‘Brenda Starr’ is a classic that is hard to tire of (check out the news flash), ‘Let’s Eat Home’ has brilliant lyrics, as well as a perfectly sculpted piano solo that becomes reminiscent of Bill Evans towards the end, ‘Al Cohn Melody’ is a memorable instrumental, and then next up is ‘Matty’, which is so completely over-the-top that I think it must be ironic (although I’m not 100% sure about that interpretation).
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Where You At?

The problem with Dave Frishberg is that he didn’t record enough albums like this, that is, albums which place the emphasis on his vocals and find him backed up by a band; too often he just sings and accompanies himself on piano. Even on this one there’s no drummer and I don’t think this improves things, just as I don’t think Lester Young’s recordings without a bassist were thereby improved in any way. But nevertheless this is a classic, and Michel Gaudry is such a great, booming bassist that he manages just fine without the drums. The title track, memorably recorded by the Boyd Raeburn orchestra in the ‘40s with vocals by David Allyn and Ginnie Powell, is suitably updated for this session, with a great arrangement that utilizes the dark combination of Turk Mauro’s baritone and Glenn Ferris’s trombone; both superb soloists who I didn’t know before I discovered this album. The highlight is Frishberg’s version of ‘I’m an Old Cowhand’, a song I’ve always loved; in addition to Sonny Rollins’ classic version, which I know backwards, I used to listen to a version by Courtney Pine when I was a teenager. But Frishberg sings the lyrics, which was a revelation to me; and he does it so, so well.