Dave Frishberg At the Jazz Bakery – (Frishberg: Solo Piano & Vocals) Retromania – Arbors Records

by | Apr 17, 2006 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

Dave Frishberg At the Jazz Bakery –  (Frishberg: Solo Piano & Vocals) Retromania – Arbors Records ARCD 19334  –  Recorded Live, May 2005, 65:58 ****1/2:

Having a live CD featuring Dave Frishberg playing solo piano and singing all original compositions is a rare treat as Dave has largely confined his playing lately to accompanying female singers, such as fellow Portlander resident and rising star, Rebecca Kilgore. Becky and Dave’s last two Arbors Recordings have attracted a lot of national attention. Frishberg has been limiting his vocalizing to visits away from home to LA and New York City.

On this CD, Dave is recorded in May, 2005, at Los Angeles’ premier small jazz club, The Jazz Bakery. What makes Retromania so special is that it is a mixture of request numbers, such as My Attorney Bernie and Listen Here along with Dave’s baseball tributes, such as his classics Dodger Blue, Van Lingle Mungo, Matty, and Play Ball. Matty is Frishberg’s tribute to the legendary early 1900s pitcher, Christy Matheson.

The recitation of old time baseball player’s names on Van Lingle Mungo shows what can be done creatively with just rhyming players’ names. The same goes for his 1977 LA Dodger paean, Dodger Blue.

Among the 28 tracks on this CD are found 11 spoken introductions that give the listener personal recollections of the childrens’ TV show, School House Rock, Jack Dempsey; and the Brooklyn Dodgers. Frishberg has the rare ability to use rapid-fire rhymes that are so hip and funny that by the time you catch their humor, you’re two verses behind.

The first three tracks – Can’t Take You Anywhere, Useless Waltz, and Zoot Walks In, were a revelation to me as Frishberg’s co-writers on these tunes are jazz legends respectively Tiny Kahn, Al Cohn, Bob Brookmeyer, Zoot Sims, and Gerry Mulligan. They speak to Dave’s period in the 60s when he was a first-choice pianist playing at Eddie Condon’s with the likes of Ben Webster, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, and Carmen McRae.

A special personal bonus to me on Retromania is the inclusion of My Attorney Bernie. For years when my sons were younger, I’d tell them stories about my attorney Bernie, when we joked about suing this person or that.

Frishberg has a love of old time baseball – pre steroids – and can rhyme player’s names in a hip fashion. These abilities help make Frishberg a treat with both sports fans and lovers of nostalgic jazz piano crooners. We have lots of jazz piano players, but few that vocalize on original tributes to the cherished past. Dave Frishberg has that honor sewed up. Pick up Retromania and celebrate the past. It’s guaranteed to bring a smile to your face! [And if you dig Dave you’ll probably also dig Bob Dorough, and even more so their CD together! – also for Arbors…Ed.]

-Jeff Krow


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