Stefan Bauer meets David Friedman

S t e f a n   B a u e r   m e e t s   D a v i d   F r i e d m a n


Ad hoc encounter during the opening of the Mallet Institute June 1/’12, Duesseldorf/Germany

(video: Hein-Godehart Petschulat, Audio: Ulf Hattwig)




David Friedman is considered to be one of the most influential vibraphonists in the history of the instrument. Internationally renowned  as a vibraphonist, marimbist, composer and jazz educator, he has his own musical message, born of fascinatingly diverse musical influences. Few jazz musicians can claim as broad a spectrum of performing and recording experience, with such varied musical personalities as Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Berio, Bobby McFerrin, Wayne Shorter and Yoko Ono. The list doesn`t stop there. Friedman has been heard either live or on recordings with, among others, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, Johnny Griffin, Jane Ira Bloom, Ron Carter and John Scofield. His compositions are featured on Chet Baker`s award winning Enja release, Peace, with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Joe Chambers. Friedman is also the featured soloist on this recording.

As an educator, Friedman’s book, “vibraphone Technique, Dampening and Pedaling” is considered to be the “bible” of mallet instruction books.

In 1977, Friedman co-founded the unique vibe-marimba quartet, Double Image, which was nominated for a German “Grammy”. Their album, “Double Image”, was just re-released as a special edition by Enja Records.

Friedman’s Enja release Shades of Change, with pianist Gerry Allen, bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Ronnie Burrage, was voted by Downbeat Magazine as “One of the year`s best 20 CD”. Friedman`s trio playing with star drummer Daniel Humair and bassist J.F. Jenny-Clarke, documented on their 1992 live release Ternaire, showcases modern, interactive jazz improvisation, ranging from an agressive driving swing to tender lyricism.

Friedman’s project with bandoneonist Dino Saluzzi, Astor Piazzola’s heir to modern Tango, is a synthesis of American jazz and ethnic improvisation, Gifted bassist, Anthony Cox, completes the trio .. This1996 CD release, “Rios”, on Intuition Records, has been called “a true work of art” by the Chicago Tribune.

One of Friedman`s most unique accomplishments is his solo mallet recording, utilizing multiple vibe and marimba overdubs, creating richly textured soundscapes. This is the first recording of its kind ever done by a mallet performer and is aptly entitled, “Air Sculpture”, on Traumton Records. Jazz Friends Review writes: “This music is made of the same fabric dreams are made of. This daring recording is riveting.” Germany’s Die Woche calls ‘Air Sculpture’ “a humble masterpiece!”.

Friedman’s project Other Worlds is a trio with an instrumentation and sound all its own, featuring the exciting french accordianist Jean Louis Matinier and the brilliant american bass virtuoso Anthony Cox. Their new CD ‘Other Worlds’, was recorded in November 1996 for Intuition Records and released in December 1997. It’s a spellbinding musical journey, featuring original compositions and improvisational dialogues of incredible depth and beauty. Jazzthetik remarks: “You feel your ears being drawn to the speakers as if by magic! Other Worlds is a true musical adventure”.

In addition, Friedman still finds time for special projects, such as being the featured guest soloist with the NDR Big Band in a program of his original compositions. He also still tours and records regularly with Double Image, the highly original, ground breaking mallet duo, with his partner of 20 years, Dave Samuels, Sponsored by Yamaha, the duo is often featured at Percussive Arts Society international events and colleges and universities throughout the world.

In the summer of 2002, Friedman invited vocal virtuoso Bobby McFerrin to help celebrate the official 10th anniversary of the jazz department of the University of the Arts. One of the most exciting moments of this sold out concert event was a spontaneous duo with Friedman and McFerrin.

In 2003 Friedman formed his new Trio TAMBOUR, with star german saxophonist, Peter Weniger, and bassist, Pepe Berns.The new CD,EARFOOD, on Skip records, was released in January 2004 and was high in the jazz charts.

Just after the release of EARFOOD Friedman was asked by RBB television to moderate the 2004 Berlin Jazz Festival.

2005 saw David touring with TAMBOUR and performing in duo with Fèrenc Snetberger and Double Image.

In 2006 Friedman began a collaboration with the Norwegian publisher, Norsk Musikforlag.  He celebrated this new cooperation by composing a series of new solo marimba pieces and several new vibraphone solo pieces, as well as compositions for mallet ensemble.

In August 2007 David was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the art of vibraphone playing and education at the KOSA international Percussion Festival. In 2008 he was recognized for his life’s work at the Ludwig Albert Belgian Marimba Festival.

David’s CD with TAMBOUR, “Rodney’s Parallel Universe” for Skip Records,  was released to critical acclaimin in March, 2007.

“Retro”, the stunning new CD collaboration with duo partner, saxophonist Peter Weniger, was released in the second week of October, 2010 on Skip Rercords to rave reviews.

Since then, their duo, “Duo Élegance”, has been touring internationally, introducing audiences to a new sound in improvised ensemble jazz.