It's an old, yet pertinent story. Jazz bassist Oscar Pettiford broke his arm playing baseball in 1949. During his recuperation, he turned to the cello, which he tuned like a bass (though up one octave). This resulted in a handful of cello-based projects, including My Little Cello
(named after Pettiford's newborn son). For Broken Arm Trio
, inspired by Pettiford, Erik Friedlander dispenses with the bow, playing his cello pizzicato. On "Jim Zipper," Friedlander and his cohorts hold on for dear life to a melody that can just about contain itself. With its jagged rhythms, breathtaking start-&-stop incidents, and furious runs, it's a lot of action packed into only 68 seconds. Hopefully, Oscar Pettiford would be proud.
Dedicated to visual-artist/ethnomusicologist Chuck Smart, "Choqueno" is an appropriately multicolored yet somber track from the eccentrically inventive cellist Hank Roberts. Like most of his solo efforts, Black Pastels
offers a unique combination of folk, classical and jazz styles, all of which are elegantly combined through his masterful composing/playing and his carefully selected personnel. He is joined here by guitarist Bill Frisell (Roberts was a member of Frisell's quartet throughout much of the 1980s), three trombones, alto sax, bass and drums. While experimenting with unique, daring instrumentation can often lead to misses rather than hits, "Choqueno" makes a trombone section drenched in sparse background strings something that should have happened a long time ago – and a lot more often. While much of the album gets more bizarre than this beautifully layered track, the clever arranging and fine playing make it worth a listen in its entirety.
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