David Friesen is a self-taught jazz bass player and composer hailing from Portland, Oregon. Over his long career he has performed and recorded with jazz greats such as Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard and Stan Getz, entering the scene at a time when it was at its most forward-looking and creative.
Described as ‘doing for the bass what Pythagoras did for triangles,’ Friesen pioneers a unique bass style. He is able to perform two-hour gigs solo, using the instrument’s full potential to create a mesmerising range of textures and sounds. In his composition, he eschews traditional jazz harmonies, and phrases for a more ‘angular’ soundscape.
Friesen is currently in Shanghai for the release of his latest CD, ‘David Friesen Live in China,’ a collaboration with local favourites Lawrence Ku on guitar and Alec Haavik on tenor sax. The CD will be launched with special gigs at the Wooden Box on this Wednesday and Thursday. Having toured China five years ago with Ku and Haavik, and returning again during the World Expo, when the live take for the latest CD was recorded, this is his third time in China.
We caught up with David whilst he spent a day teaching at the JZ School.
“I first met Lawrence Ku about five years ago, he was introduced to me by a person in Hong Kong. I asked whether he would be interested in getting together to do some concerts, and he was nice enough to say yes. So I came here for the JZ jazz festival, played at JZ Club and the cultural centre in Shanghai, and then did a concert at the festival up in Beijing.
“We did that tour together and it was great so I came back again during the Expo; we played a series of gigs and went to Chengdu, Suzhou and Shanghai.
“This new CD was recorded live in concert in Chengdu with Alec Haavik, Lawrence Ku and myself. The music turned out really well, it sounds really good. There’s no drummer, just the three of us, but the energy is great. We’re playing all my music, which is not the easiest, because there are no 2-5-1 progressions. It’s very angular and there are many altered chords, so you can’t take pre-conceived patterns and ideas to play through my music. The concert was at the university of Chengdu and the people loved it there. It was packed, might have been five, eight hundred people and everyone seemed to like it – it was a very good response!
“At Wooden Box, the three of us will be performing music from the new CD plus brand new music, so we’re looking forward to it. We have a great time playing together, I hope people will turn up and see our gigs this week; it’s a very intimate place which will be perfect for our music.”
David Friesen Story
The David Friesen Trio will be playing at the Wooden Box on the 16th and 17th of May