VOICES Notes and news on Jazz releases
08 FEB 11 ANNE FARNSWORTH
When we think of Dave Frishberg, his witty vocal compositions come to mind, sung in his distinctively eccentric style. But Frishberg's piano playing is more than mere accompaniment and with Lookin' Good, a compilation of two previous releases, we get a chance to dig into his traditional barrelhouse style.
Although he studied journalism in college, Frishberg played piano from a young age, influenced by his older brothers' 78-rpm recordings. He taught himself boogie-woogie and stride before moving on to swing and bebop. All of these styles are represented here, sometimes several in the same song, as is the case with "Alligator Crawl." Bix Beiderbecke's "In A Mist" and Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" take us back to the days of the piano giants Art Tatum and Earl "Fatha" Hines. There are also New Orleans-style horn arrangements featuring trumpeters Snooky Young and Bob Findley. It's a pleasure to hear these classic sounds in a clean, up-to-date recording.
No Frishberg record would be complete without humorous vocals. The composer of "My Attorney Bernie" and "Peel Me A Grape" delivers some standouts on Lookin' Good. Many of Frishberg's songs resemble catalogue arias -- the clever rhyming lists popular in comic opera. "Brenda Starr" recounts the intrepid reporter's many scoops. Though Frishberg has favorite dinner spots around the world, tonight, he suggests "Let's Eat Home." In "Matty," Frishberg turns his journalist's eye on a baseball team bailed out by the title character. It's fun stuff -- creative, swinging and full of life.
Dave Frishberg, from Lookin' Good