Eugene Friesen Ensemble
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Eugene Friesen Ensemble

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"Eugene Friesen - Review"

"Transcending all categories, Friesen's music stirs the soul with a passion and sense of 'bright moments' that are nothing less than inspiring." - Jazz Times

"Eugene Friesen - Review"

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

"Eugene Friesen - Review"

"I really love the ideas you present, and the creative ways you have stretched the limits of the cello to engage the audience's imagination." - Yo Yo Ma

"Comment from Presenter"

"These folks were so terrific… The audience was very responsive, and everyone was very happy. What talented musicians!! Such a wonderful event, too." - Jody Mazur, Director of Programming and Events - Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts

"Eugene Friesen Expresses The Multiple Voices Of The Cello"

The Enterprise:
Eugene Friesen Expresses The Multiple Voices Of The Cello
Posted in: Entertainment
Apr 25, 2008

Contemporary improvisational cellist Eugene Friesen made his annual trip to Falmouth recently to perform at the Fishmonger’s Café Coffee House, entertain young school children, and teach some elements of jazz to a group of 25 student cellists of all ages and abilities.
Mr. Friesen, who lives in Vermont and teaches at the Berklee School of Music in Boston, is a master of the cello. He has recorded numerous solo and ensemble CDs. He has won Grammy Awards as a member of the Paul Winter Consort, and has performed all over the world. He blends traditional classical music with Brazilian folk melodies, wild improvisational jazz, and his own original compositions, demonstrating that there is no limit to the music that can be created with a cello.
One of Mr. Friesen’s missions is to make great music of all kinds accessible to audiences of all ages, especially children, and he has created an entirely different persona for this purpose, that of CelloMan. It was as CelloMan that he performed for children in kindergarten to third grade at the East Falmouth Elementary School last Wednesday morning.
Mr. Friesen opens each CelloMan show by playing the prelude to the first Bach cello suite, and concludes each performance by donning a mask of Pablo Casals and playing Bach’s “Air on a G String.” In between these tributes to the classical masters, he offers a wide variety of innovative, contemporary, and improvisational music to give students an introduction to the types of music that can be played on the cello.
In one amusing bit, Mr. Friesen wore a squirrel mask, becoming the squirrel that he claims broke into his house and discovered his cello. Using rapid, darting squirrel-like movements, he plucked the cello, tentatively at first, and then with abandon, as he (the squirrel) fell in love with the sound of the instrument.
One of the most memorable moments was “Humpback Harmony,” a duet between Mr. Friesen playing an electrified cello and a recording of the song of a humpback whale. The other-worldly sounds of the whales were echoed by the haunting sounds of the cello harmonics and Mr. Friesen’s unique reverberating plucking technique. The whole effect was mesmerizing, holding both children and adults spellbound.
That afternoon, Mr. Friesen joined 25 cello students of Nikki Garcia-Renart at the Woods Hole Community Center for a workshop on playing one rhythm against another. The students ranged in age from 5 to 60, including some who had been playing for only a few months and others who were quite accomplished musicians. Mr. Friesen easily adopted his teaching to make the workshop inspiring for all.
“He expands the horizon for all of us,” said Ms. Garcia-Renart. Mr. Friesen has been teaching these annual workshops for Ms. Garcia-Renart’s students for 10 years or so, and focuses on a different aspect of playing each time. In the past, they have improvised using the pentatonic scale, played 12-bar blues, studied different types of rhythm, and worked on improvisational ensemble playing.
At 8 PM, Mr. Friesen joined guitarist Freddie Bryant and pianist Tim Ray at Fishmonger’s Café in Woods Hole to become “Cello Nova,” a dynamic trio of outstanding musicians who effortlessly (it seemed) and passionately blended classical music, improvisational jazz, and Latin American rhythms and melodies.
Mr. Friesen opened the concert with a long, slow note, leading into a jazzed-up Brazilian version of Bach’s “Air on the G String,” joking afterward that it came from Bach’s “Brazilian period.” This was followed by three lively folk-style Brazilian pieces, a song he learned in Siberia, music from Colombia and Venezuela, and music by Brazilian composers Antonio Carlos Jobim and Ernesto Nazareth.
Playing the cello with a quiet elegance, Mr. Friesen often closed his eyes, as if transported by the music, but also provides whirlwind displays of cello virtuosity. Using an incredible array of original techniques, such as an earthy multiple-finger, double-handed pizzicato string plucking, a range of percussive techniques, visually and aurally expressive bowings, and dramatic slides up and down the fingerboard, Mr. Friesen produced both gorgeous slow warm tones on his cello, sometimes doubling them with his voice, and blurringly fast explosions of sounds, showing there are no limits to the types of music that can be created with a cello, at least with his practiced hands.
Mr. Bryant and Mr. Ray played brilliantly as well, each taking solos on their instruments, as well as playing duets with Mr. Friesen. Mr. Bryant recited Maya Angelou’s poem “Alone” (“Nobody, but nobody can make it out here alone”) while playing a guitar accompaniment he had composed for it. Mr. Ray played a catchy version of Duke Ellington’s “In a Mellow Tone,” on the piano.
Two of my favorite pieces were “Remembering You,” - The Enterprise


Still working on that hot first release.



Featuring ancient carols and airs of the passing seasons, The World Solstice Celebration sets stories and verse from pre-Christian Rome, Russia, Scandinavia, the British Isles and native peoples of North America with music both new and old. Eugene Friesen's rapturous and fiery cello, the crystal soprano and soothing harp of Áine Minogue, the sparkling piano of Tim Ray and the exotic and mysterious percussion of Satoshi Takeishi add depth and motion to an evening of song and story celebrating the origins of our modern holidays and celebrations. Both winter and summer solstice programs are offered.

Eugene Friesen

Eugene 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 won a Grammy for the 1994 Paul Winter Consort album, Spanish Angel, and received grants from the Lila Wallace/Readers Digest Fund and Continental Harmony to compose a symphonic setting of Carl Sandberg's Prairie. His compositional credits include five albums of original music. Grasslands, a symphonic/oratorio, and numerous works for choral and chamber ensembles. Eugene 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.

Tim Ray

Tim Ray is perhaps best known as Lyle Lovett’s pianist for the past 13 years, but he has been an active and in-demand jazz artist since 1978. He also tours and records with the internationally acclaimed singer-songwriters Victoria Williams and Jane Siberry, and often performs with leading jazz musicians including Gary Burton, Scott Hamilton, Oliver Lake, Harvie Swartz, John Abercrombie, Bucky Pizzarelli, Duke Robillard, George Garzone, and Tiger Okoshi. 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 US, Canada and Central America.

Satoshi Takeishi

Satoshi Takeishi, drummer, percussionist, and arranger is a native of Mito Japan. He studied music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. While at Berklee he developed an interest in the music of South America and went to live in Colombia following the invitation of a friend. In 1986 he returned to the U.S. in Miami where he began work as an arranger. In 1987 he produced ‘Morning Ride’ for jazz flutist Nestor Torres on Polygram Records. His interest expanded to the rhythms and melodies of the Middle East where he studied and performed with Armenian-American oud master Joe Zeytoonian. Since moving to New York in 1991 he has performed and recorded with many musicians such as Ray Barretto, Carlos ‘Patato’ Valdes, Eliane Elias, Marc Johnson, Eddie Gomez, Randy Brecker, Dave Liebman, Anthony Braxton, Mark Murphy, Herbie Mann, Paul Winter Consort, Rabih Abu Khalil, Erik Friedlander, Paul Giger, Toshiko Akiyoshi Big Band and Pablo Ziegler.

Freddie Bryant

Freddie Bryant is a versatile musician skilled both in jazz and classical music receiving his Master's degree in classical guitar from the Yale School of Music. Freddie is currently in demand in the New York jazz scene where he works with Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet and the Mingus Orchestra. He is also on the first call list of many singers and Brazilian musicians because of his sensitive accompanying and his knowledge of Brazilian guitar. His most recent CD is with the group Trio del Sol (Twinz Records). He has four others as a leader: Brazilian Rosewood, Boogaloo Brasileiro, Live at Smoke (Fresh Sound Records) and Take Your Dance into Battle (Jazz City Spirit). Freddie has also had the honor of touring with three legends of the music world: African singer, Salif Keita, the virtuoso klezmer clarinetist, Maestro Giora Feidman and the jazz trumpet great, Tom Harrell (as a member of his quintet, 1999-2001). He has recorded and/or played with Tom Harrell, D.D. Jackson, Steve Wilson, Kevin Hays, Rosanna Vitro, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Sheila Jordan, Randy Brecker, David Sanchez, and many others. His most recent highlights include two tours organized by the U.S. Department of State as "Jazz Ambassador" to nine countries in North Africa, the Mid-East and Asia and another to four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. He recently performed at the Kennedy Center with the Billy Taylor Trio, broadcast on the National Public Radio Show, "Live at the Kennedy Center." In 2004 he had the honor of being a Copeland Fellow-composer in residence at Amherst College.

"Freddie Bryant is a brilliant young guitarist and composer."
-Kenny Burrell