One of the prettiest collections of songs to come my way this year is Rob Fried’s self-produced CD Wind Song, featuring Randy Brecker on trumpet and flugelhorn. The wide sweeping and lightly melodic "Time Peace" opens the album, with Brecker and Fried seemingly inspiring one another to greater heights.
The Afro Cuban song "Cuba Duba Do," might excite Fred Flintstone enough to yell "yabba dabba do!" Brecker is at the top of his game with a highlight package of trumpet notes. Emedin Rivera’s percussion beats create an island ambience and the keyboarding is scintillating. Unfortunately, the liner notes don’t tell us if the keyboardist for this song is Rob Aries or Nick Bariluk, both are mentioned as players on the CD. In fact, the keyboard chops are spectacular throughout the album.
The B3-flavored "Rooster Blues" is a song that will get you moving, and if you do not find yourself gyrating to this great tune, then cash in your chips as a music fan now because you are sliding badly.
By now, you are probably asking just where Rob Fried figures into all of this. Fried composed all of the songs on this superbly arranged and played CD. In addition, he lays down some of the smoothest acoustic and electric bass guitar licks you will hear on a disc this year.
Fried demonstrated a great sense of selection and timing when it came to the order that his songs appear in on Wind Song. He subtly segues into the fourth track "Sarah’s Band," featuring flautist Ali Ryerson and violinist Jean Wriedt. The ethereal sounds of woodwind and strings provide an appropriately soothing respite from the blues and Afro Cuban tunes that preceded "Sarah’s Band." Far from being a one dimensional composer and musician, Fried gives the listener an opportunity to enjoy the many facets of his outstanding musicianship and compositions. At the same time, he mixes his songs so that the listener neither is lulled to sleep nor so pumped up that they are emotionally drained before the CD finishes spinning.
The title track, "Wind Song," is the longest song at 7:09, and again features the ethereal tones of flautist Ali Ryerson. This would also be a good time to mention Chris Parker’s drumming throughout the album. Parker is smooth and his cymbal work gentle versus intrusive. The cymbals accompany and enhance rather than interrupt. The piano chops are gorgeous, and at times, border on classical.
Other good tunes to listen for on Wind Song include "Samba Diane," which combines good percussion beats with Ryerson’s more ethereal flute and the result is quite pleasing to the ear. Parker cuts loose for an extended solo. The bluesy "Be Love," again treats us to some nimble fingering of the B3 keys.
If you enjoy several flavors of jazz and appreciate high quality musicianship, then Rob Fried’s Wind Song is the CD you have been looking for.