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

Review of Art Attack - Ray Van Horn, Jr.

Ah, to be in a Honolulu paradise banging away a New York Minute or two with only a care for the moment expunged from your jiving fingertips on a grand piano fit for Carnegie or Radio City…

With standup bass and percussion, Dan Freedman can whip up a nostalgic frenzy on his piano with enough finesse to queue up Dave Brubeck, Chick Corea and Vince Guaraldi. Have a go with his tune “On Green Dolphin Street” for evidence. By his lonesome, Freedman reveals a knack for improvisation to familiar melodies with jazz piano revisionism on his album
Art Attack.

Though he could easily hold sentry on the minstrel stool of any nightclub or Nordstrom’s (for the record, the man has provided compositions for films and advertisements), Freedman’s playing is far more footloose and sometimes dreamier than being relegated a Liberace-for-hire. The twinkling melancholy whispering through the seven minutes of Freedman’s “Very Early” and then the aspirant “Wheatland” is more akin to a pleasing coffeehouse savoir faire, if not a private audience where Freedman has plenty of control yet lets himself swim confidentially in the base of his carefree renditions.

Noting on his business card “rich jazz harmonies that don’t lose the melody,” the proof positive is to hear his take on Ben Bernie and company’s “Sweet Georgia Brown.” You’ll undoubtedly be thinking Harlem Globetrotters as anyone does within the first few bars of the 1949 version by Brother Bones & His Shadows; however, Freedman’s take is closer in spirit to the ragtime era in which it was conceived. His fingers shuck and tap a shambling rhythm on the low notes while dancing madcap in the higher leads, cheerfully extemporizing Dixie doodle overtop hints of the core melody.

While most people snicker at the childish tappity-taps of Alexander Borodin, et.al.’s “Chopsticks,” Freedman takes the primary waltzing flavor of the song and dashes tertiary elegance amidst his pumping scales, creating an imaginative and spritely reinterpretation to something universally-known and otherwise considered by many to be trite.

Proving he can stylishly do-up more contemporary songs, Freedman methodically lavishes The Beatles’ “Michelle” with determined post-melody structures with almost the same dramatic flair as Yoshiki did for Kiss’ “Black Diamond.”

Freedman’s self-written and arranged “Laughing Child” is one of
Art Attack’s sweetest and most poignant moments—a genuine labor of love—while the album’s bonus track “Lives at Stake” gives the listener a tribal percussive conduct, sending off this unique endeavor with the same culture clash bravado as Art Blakey’s roots-meets-jazz masterpiece Drum Suite.

Aloha, Mr. Freedman…

Ray Van Horn, Jr.