The Cello/Piano Project
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Press


"...robust improvisation, inspired writing, and spirited collaboration..." - Jazz Times - Jazz Times


"Friesen's frenzied bowings and soaring melodies sent many in the audience home in a state of musical rapture." - Washington Post


"A superior performer able to synthesize a vast array of influences and ideas into an entertaining, musically satisfying whole." - Tower Pulse


“...and that Tim Ray at the piano -
he slays me every single night!"
— Bonnie Raitt, on-mike during a tour with Tim
- Bonnie Raitt


"...The Tim Ray Trio took the town by storm again...Tim Ray is a young man but he plays a mean piano. Mean to the point of amazing." - Telluride Times


"The best show we have ever had here." - Jocko, The Sahara Club, Methuen, MA


Eugene Friesen - Berklee's Cello Man

By Mark Small

The cello was primarily viewed as a classical instrument when Eugene Friesen's father, a Russian-born church musician and conductor, urged him to take it up nearly 40 years ago. Although his musical tastes would later broaden, the 10-year-old Friesen dug into classical music and advanced rapidly. By the time he was 12, he was performing orchestral and choral works that his father conducted in the vicinity of their hometown, Fresno, California. By the time he was in high school, he was playing with the Fresno Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonic's string quartet and string trio.

Like most teenagers, Friesen also listened to the radio. Hearing symphonic instruments in popular music during the '60s made him aware that there was a lot of stylistic territory to be explored with the cello. "I got into folk and rock music in high school and started playing blues on the cello," Friesen said. "I was in a rock band and had my own band in college. Eventually, I got tired of that scene and realized my limitations as a player."

Friesen redoubled his efforts in classical playing and went off to Yale University where he studied with renowned cellist Aldo Parisot. Somewhat ironically, through his work with Parisot he was drawn to musical realms outside of the classical world. "Parisot is a Brazilian-born virtuoso and an extraordinary pedagogue," Friesen said. "Twice I had the chance to go to Brazil for his summer course. That is where I first heard Brazilian folk music. I felt such a strong affinity for the rhythms and sounds of that music that I knew I would have to get back into some folk and freer music."

During his Yale years, many great orchestras came to the university and Friesen got to see another side of the life of the classical musician. "I had a very naive vision of what it would be like to live in the splendor of the grand music they played," he said. "The truth is quite a bit more mundane. Being an orchestra musician surrounded by that great music is like having an embarrassment of riches. It seems that very quickly one starts obsessing on contracts, benefits, and the conductors you face week to week."

After graduating from Yale, Friesen got a call from saxophonist Paul Winter, whom he had met once in Fresno. "He invited me to his place in Connecticut," Friesen recalled. "We really hit it off and I started playing full time with the Paul Winter Consort around 1978."

It was a great fit for Friesen. Winter's group had developed an alluring sound blending classical and ethnic folk elements with improvisation. Winter's exotic acoustic instrumentation—cello, guitar, sitar, soprano saxophone, oboe, keyboards, tablas, bass marimba, and more—and his wide stylistic reach placed them at the fore of the then- emerging new-age and world-music movements.

In the early 1980s, Friesen also took a post at the University of Delaware as the cellist for the Delos Quartet, the university's resident string quartet. It fulfilled Friesen's childhood dream of playing with a great chamber group. "We were playing the Bartok and Beethoven string quartets—amazing music," he said. "The late Beethoven quartets are among the most spiritually nourishing music for a string player, and the incredible passion and rhythmic energy of the Bartok quartets are sensational." When the group took first prize at a competition in France and offers to tour Europe poured in, he had to decide whether to follow his inclinations toward improvised music or focus on chamber music. He chose the former and decided to leave the quartet.



Since then, Friesen has toured extensively with the Winter Consort and is featured on many of the group's recordings—including two of their Grammy-winning discs. He has also released four CDs as a leader and has been a sideman on many others. [Visit www.celloman.com to view Friesen's discography.] Seeking to explore other rhythmic areas, he formed Trio Globo in 1990 with pianist/harmonica virtuoso Howard Levy and percussionist Glen Velez. In this setting, Friesen draws freely on all of the cello's sonic resources. He contributes walking bass lines, guitarlike chords, and gorgeous bowed lines to the mix.

Friesen keeps his schedule packed with teaching, composing, and a variety of performing engagements. In order to live in Vermont and support his family, a lot of his activities have to be self-generated. "I opted for a life that by necessity demands a lot of diversity just so I can get by," he said. "That has been a challenge and kept me on a learning curve with music and my own playing."

He joined the faculty in 1999 and presently conducts the Berklee String Orchestra, directs a free improvisation lab, and teaches private students. He hopes to see Berklee become the place that technically accomplished cellists seeking a personal path in music will come. "Cello is a very challenging instrument to play in tune. It takes a lot longer for - Berklee Today


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

Musical passion, sweeping melody and rocking rhythm mark one-of-a-kind evenings with Eugene and Tim. Contemporary jazz, Brazilian classics and American folk tunes are the soil from which the duo’s joyful interplay blooms, and chamber music is changed forever. As featured players with the likes of Paul Winter, Lyle Lovett, Bonnie Raitt and others, both have cultivated unique styles; together in concert, they honor the sonorities and dignity of classical music, while enlivening the form with bright rhythms, exotic scales, new colors, and improvisation. Programs include original compositions and music by Jobim, Miles Davis, Egberto Gismonti, Thelonius Monk and more.

EUGENE FRIESEN

"Friesen's frenzied bowings and soaring melodies sent many in the audience home in a state of musical rapture." -The Washington Post

"A superior performer able to synthesize a vast array of influences and ideas into an entertaining, musically satisfying whole." - Tower Pulse

Eugene Friesen, composer/cellist, is at the forefront of a new generation of musicians versed in classical, popular and world music. A graduate of the Yale School of Music, he is active as a performer, composer, teacher and recording artist.

Friesen's gift for the responsive flow of improvisatory music has been featured in concerts all over the world with the Paul Winter Consort, Trio Globo, and with poets Yevgeny Yevtushenko and Coleman Barks. He has performed as a soloist at the International Cello Festival in Manchester, England; Rencontres d'Ensembles de Violoncelles in Beauvais, France; International Cello Encounter in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and at the World Cello Congress in Baltimore, Maryland.

His compositional credits include many albums of original music: Sono Miho; In The Shade Of Angels; New Friend; Arms Around You; The Song of Rivers; Grasslands, a symphony premiered on the Kansas prairie in 1997; Earth Requiem: Stories of Hope, an oratorio first performed in 1991; The Brementown Musicians with Bob Hoskins for Rabbit Ears Productions in 1992; Sabbaths, settings of poems by Wendell Berry premiered by the Brattleboro Music Center in 1999; and numerous scores for documentary films. Eugene's music can also be heard on the recordings of Trio Globo, which he founded in 1992 with Howard Levy and Glen Velez.

Friesen was awarded a Grammy award as a member of the Paul Winter Consort in 1994 and 2006. He was also the 1999 recipient of grants from the Lila Wallace/Reader's Digest Fund and Continental Harmony to compose a symphonic setting of Carl Sandburg's PRAIRIE, which was premiered in June of 2001 at PrairieFest in Kansas.

CelloMan, his one-man show for young audiences, features a wide variety of music on solo cello: classical, jazz, blues and rock. Created in collaboration with maskmaker/choreographer Robert Faust, CelloMan has been performed widely in the United States and Canada. The CelloMan video was released in 1999.

Eugene Friesen is on the faculty of the Berklee College of Music in Boston and is an artist-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City. He lives in Vermont.

TIM RAY

“...and that Tim Ray at the piano -
he slays me every single night!"
— Bonnie Raitt, on-mike during a tour with Tim

“...The Tim Ray Trio took the town by storm again...Tim Ray is a young man but he plays a mean piano. Mean to the point of amazing.” — Telluride Times

Tim Ray is perhaps best known as Lyle Lovett’s pianist for the past 15 years (including summer-long tours in 2001-4), but he has been an active and in-demand jazz artist since 1978. He also tours and records with the internationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Jane Siberry, and often performs with the leading jazz musicians in the New York and New England areas, including Gary Burton, Scott Hamilton, Oliver Lake, Harvie Swartz, John Abercrombie, Bucky Pizzarelli, Duke Robillard, George Garzone, and Tiger Okoshi. Tim regularly performs, records and tours with vocalists Donna Byrne, Mili Bermejo, Lisa Thorson and with Cercie Miller’s quartet from the Boston area as well. His busy performance schedule has included numerous tours throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, and has included performances at Carnegie Hall, the White House, and virtually all the major jazz festivals in the U.S., Canada and Central America. Tim is recently a recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has performed numerous times on The Tonight Show (Johnny Carson, Jay Leno), Late Night with David Letterman, and other national broadcasts. Tim has appeared on over 50 recordings, and released his first CD as a leader in 1997 - Ideas & Opinions - on Gunther Schuller’s GM record label, which featured drummer Lewis Nash and bassist Rufus Reid. His second CD was released in the Spring of 2003 - Tre Corda - and includes Greg Hopkins on trumpet and Eugene Friesen on cello. He received his Master’s degree in Jazz from the New England Conservatory