EnCore, as its title suggests, is the second outing by Fred Fried and Core. Listening to this record, one can see why Fred Fried wished to work with this group for a second time—the band, comprised of Fried on eight string guitar, Michael Lavoie on bass and Miki Matsuki on drums, interacts with natural ease and their individual styles mesh well.
The music is pleasant and intuitive, but demanding in its own way. Fred Fried's music is focused on composition—the tracks are each carefully and thoroughly composed, and sometimes approach the stately grace (and contrapuntal complexity) of classical music. That said, this group swings with deceptive ease.
Fred Fried studied extensively with George Van Eps, and the latter's penchant for creating memorable melodies and challenging harmonies seems to have rubbed off on his student. Fried (with help from Lavoie) manipulates the expanded tonal possibilities of his eight stringed instrument with imagination and taste. There are many simple melodies that give the listener something to latch on to, but a wealth of subtle counter-melodies and outside harmonic frameworks reveal themselves with repeated listens. Despite the challenging material, this record never sounds distant or intellectual; indeed, Encore is often warm and even playful.
Those who are interested in the compositional aspect of jazz will find this album a joy to listen to. Fred Fried and Core are making some of the most interesting and original statements in all of jazz, even if they are doing it quietly and gracefully. Highly recommended.