He should have gained much more attention, but for some reason, always stayed somewhat under the radar inspite of a recording career that spanned almost sixty years and a plethora of fantastic recordings. My favorite is his solo recording released for the Maybeck Recital Hall Series. The 1993 disc features Don Friedman on numerous standards and lesser-known pieces and also showcases his background in classical music. His ideas and reflections on Irving Berlin‘s “How Deep Is The Ocean?” speak volumes, his own composition “Memories For Scotty”, dedicated to Bill Evans bassist Scott LaFaro, is a bittersweet lament. “Sea Breeze” is as fresh and positive and rejuvenating as a full day spent at sea.
He has been compared to Bill Evans quiet a lot because he arrived from the West Coast on the New York scene just as Bill Evans started to make his name heard as a solo artist, but in the late 60s he didn’t shy away from recording more out and challenging pieces. In the latter days of his career, Don focused on trio and solo recordings and I think his original compositions are little gems, such as “35 W. 4th St.” or “Waltz For Marilyn” or “Summer’s End”. His intense phrasing and driving touch keep making me happy.
He left us yesterday after a brief fight against pancreatic cancer. He was 81.