StLJN Saturday Video Showcase: Erik Friedlander's Black Phebe Trio


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Today, it's time to check out some videos featuring cellist Erik Friedlander, who will be in St. Louis to perform with his Black Phebe Trio in a concert presented by New Music Circle next Thursday, March 16 at The Stage at KDHX.

Over the past 20 years or so, the NYC-based Friedlander has released more than two dozen albums as a leader or co-leader, performing solo and with a variety of collaborators and ensembles.

He's especially known for his frequent work with saxophonist John Zorn and with Zorn-adjacent musicians such as Cyro Baptista, Uri Caine, Nels Cline, Sylvie Courvoisier, Dave Douglas, and Wadada Leo Smith, and Friedlander also has recorded and/or performed with the jazz/fusion quartet Topaz, Laurie Anderson, and rock performers including Courtney Love and Alanis Morissette.

The Black Phebe Trio, which includes Friedlander, keyboardist Shoko Nagai, and percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, takes its name from a track on the cellist's 2016 album Rings.

Both Nagai and Takeishi are Japanese natives and graduates (though a decade apart) of Berklee School of Music.

Takeishi has been in New York City since 1991, working in genres ranging from free improv to Latin jazz with musicians such as Ray Barretto, Carlos ‘Patato’ Valdes, Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson, Eddie Gomez, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Anthony Braxton, Mark Murphy, Herbie Mann, Ned Rothenberg, and numerous others.

Nagai graduated from Berklee in 1999, and since her move to NYC has performed and recorded with Zorn, Butch Morris, Miho Hatori (from the Japanese experimental rock band Cibo Matto), Elliot Sharp, and many others.

Unfortunately, there's not much video online of the three of them performing together as the Black Phebe Trio, save for the excerpt from a show at Saalfelden Jazzfestival 2014 in Austria that was shared here a few weeks back as part of StLJN's winter/spring 2017 jazz preview.

However, you can glean quite a bit about Friedlander's playing tendencies and techniques by seeing and hearing some of his solo performances, starting up above with an excerpt from his 2007 album Block Ice & Propane recorded live in Moers, Germany.

After the jump, there are two more Friedlander solos, “Prelude- Scriptorium" and “Madrigal- Siddur," recorded in 2014 during the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakov, Poland

Those clips are followed by a duo performance by Takeishi and Nagai- seemingly the only one available online- called “Oneness," recorded in October 2012 at Inage Candy in Chiba, Japan.

The final two videos are brief interviews with Friedlander. The first, recorded in 2015, features him talking about John Zorn and jazz bassist/cellist Oscar Pettiford (the subject of his tribute project Oscalypso). The second, from last year, is the video portion of an interview with New Music Box in which he talks about telling stories through sound.

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This story appears courtesy of St. Louis Jazz Notes by Dean Minderman.
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