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.
Having worked with such varied musical personalities as Leonard Bernstein, Luciano Berio, Bobby McFerrin, Wayne Shorter and Yoko Ono, few jazz musicians can claim as broad a spectrum of performing and recording experience.
The list doesn`t stop there. Friedman has been heard either live or on recordings with, among others, Joe Henderson, Horace Silver, Johnny Griffin, Hubert Laws, Jane Ira Bloom, Ron Carter and John Scofield. Friedman’s vibraphone and compositions are both featured on Chet Baker’s award winning Enja release Peace, with bassist Buster Williams and drummer Joe Chambers.
A dedicated and renowned educator, David Friedman founded the jazz program at Berlin’s University of the Arts, and served as its head for sixteen years. He continues to perform masterclasses throughout Europe, North America and Japan. His 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, with Dave Samuels. Their first recording, Double Image, was nominated for a German “Grammy”, and has just been re-released as a special edition by Enja Records. Friedman’s Enja release Shades of Change, with pianist Geri Allen, bassist Anthony Cox and drummer Ronnie Burrage, was voted by Downbeat magazine as “One of the year’s best 20 CD’s”.
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. The gifted bassist Anthony Coxcompletes the trio. Their 1996 CD release, Rios, on Intuition Records, has been called “a true work of art” by the Chicago Tribune.
One of Friedman’s unique accomplishments is his solo mallet recording, which utilizes multiple vibe and marimba overdubs to create richly textured soundscapes. The first recording of its kind ever done by a mallet performer, it is aptly entitled Air Sculpture (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 callsAir 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 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. He has been the featured guest soloist with the NDR Big Band in a program of his original compositions. He continues to tour and record regularly with Dave Samuels in the ground breaking mallet duo Double Image – a partnership that has endured for more than 35 years. 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. Their CD, Earfood, on Skip records, was released in January 2004 to rave reviews.
Just after the release of Earfood Friedman was asked by RBB (Radio Berlin Brandenburg) television to moderate the 2004 Berlin Jazz Festival.
2005 saw David touring with Tambour and performing as a duo with Hungarian guitarist Férenc Snetberger, as well as with Double Image.
In 2006 Friedman began a collaboration with the Norwegian publisher Norsk Musikforlag, and celebrated this new partnership by composing a series of solo marimba pieces and several vibraphone solo pieces, as well as compositions for mallet ensemble.
In August 2007 he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the art of vibraphone playing and education at the KOSA International Percussion Festival, while in 2008 he was recognized for his life’s work at the Ludwig Albert Marimba Festival in Belgium.
David’s CD with Tambour, Rodney’s Parallel Universe, for Skip Records, was released to critical acclaim in March of 2007.
Retro, the stunning new CD collaboration with duo partner, saxophonist Peter Weniger, was released in October of 2010 on Skip Records to rave reviews. It was immediately voted “CD of the month” by Germany’s Jazz Podium magazine. Since then, Friedman and Weniger have been touring internationally under the name Duo Élegance, introducing audiences to their uniquely intimate, and very personal approach to improvised, ensemble jazz.
In Sept. 2014 David premiered Leah Muir’s concerto for improvised vibraphone and orchestra, ‘By the Reflecting Pool’ with the Bruckner Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Dennis Russell Davies. The performance was the highlight of the ‘Ars Electronica’ festival in Linz, Austria. This work for completely improvised vibraphone is the first of its’ kind in the history of solo performance with orchestra.