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Dan Freedman, composer and pianist “…defines the living edge of jazz piano harmony!”

Review of Art Attack - Nicole DeLawder

In a sea of scene-stealers backed by auto-tune and personal life dramas, it is nice to get a hold of pure musical talent. No, not My Morning Jacket or some other genre-defying musical endeavor – we’re going back to jazz.

Art Attack by Dan Freedman is a refreshing ping of the ivories, recalling the fundamentals behind music. Freedman’s labor of love reestablishes the importance of jazz on music today, tweaking some favorite standards while integrating a few of his original compositions.

Opening with the 1947 opus by Bronislau Kaper and Ned Washington – “On Green Dolphin Street,” Freedman introduces his listeners to the ongoing, creative conversation between musicians. Upbeat and energetic, this modern take builds on the cohesion of all parts of the trio - Freedman on both piano and bass, and Brazilian drummer Giba Moojen on percussion. Previously recorded by the talents of Miles Davis in 1958, and Bill Evans in 1959, Freedman follows in some of his successors with similar passion and precision.

The livelihood of jazz, taken out of context from today’s constant conglomeration of genres, stems from the passion of the musician behind the music. Freedman is not jazz’s Kayne West - the aura of
Art Attack is one of comfort, familiarity and importantly, creativity. By recreating classics in a lighthearted, dynamic form, each track sympathizes with the foundation of jazz, while utilizing the piano as a voice for its creator. While many of the tracks are classics from Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Maceo Pinkard, there are a few surprises underneath the already adventurous melodic improvisation.

The Beatles’ popular song “Michelle” is now jazz-ified. Or is it “jazzercized’? Either way, Freedman takes McCartney and Lennon’s arrangement and bends it into his own unique structure with the piano’s dynamic harmony. Building softly over the first few minutes, Freedman keeps the underlying structure consistent with the original while constantly integrating his own, virtuosic touch.

While his strengths lay on reformulating jazz (and even pop) standards, Freedman breaks away from the proverbial standards with some original compositions. “Laughing Child” fluctuates between jazz improvisations and ballad-pop with simple arrangements suitable for the opening of a feel-good family movie. Although this tune is not the most noteworthy on the album, Freedman’s exploration into his own creative ventures welcomes more displays of his piano solos and artistic performances.

“Lives at Stake,” the bonus track on the album, is by far the most genre-bending of them all. Relying on a highly processed Marimba, the tune bellows deep melodies creating a resonating, rhythmic experience. “Once I had the sound I wanted, I basically just sat down and recorded it straight into the computer, just a single time, composing on-the-fly,” Freedman said. While the jazz standards are impressive, the looseness of the creativity on this final track leaves the listener insatiable – craving more of this unknown dialogue.

Filled with both familiarity and uncertainty, Dan Freedman creates a few rare arrangements in a world of compositions. Without mimicking, he embodies the spirit of jazz and the dialogue between musicians with rich harmonies, and crossover genres. As a debut,
Art Attack embodies a sampling of satiable sounds that will, hopefully, continue to grow and form into new, musically innovative voyages.

Nicole DeLawder