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Dan Freedman, composer and pianist “…defines the living edge of jazz piano harmony!”

Review of Art Attack - Jason Smith

Currently residing in Honolulu, Hawaii, pianist Dan Freedman’s expressive style of playing washes over you like tidal waves. Art Attack is an impressive debut from a man who’s clearly in love with his instrument of choice, commanding as his fingers fly across the keys but always intent in conveying the melody and mood across to the listener.

Performing standards and original works via solo piano and duets as well as a jazz trio, this album offers a comprehensive view of Freedman’s range as a pianist and a composer. Opening with “On Green Dolphin Street,” the stage is set for a drums/bass/piano conversation and all are given equal space for expression. The interaction between the three allows everyone to improvise while being aware of the boundaries that the song’s framework provides.

Freedman’s strength lies in playing within the boundaries and still being able to challenge them as well. This method comes across best in his renditions of “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Chopsticks.” The former features him playing against himself in a piano duet. Chaos could ensue with most other musicians, but Freedman understands that carefully placed silence is just as important, if not more so, than the notes that are played. Armed with that knowledge, his approach to “Sweet Georgia Brown” is like watching a great tennis match between two masters: a study in tension, technique, and execution.

“Chopsticks” reveals his uncanny knack for arrangement as a piano tutoring favorite is transformed into a luxurious suite, leaving plenty of room to have fun but always bringing the listener back to the song’s original theme. Such lessons in harmony continue as “Michelle,” a popular Beatles tune, is revisited and released from rhythm altogether. In the process, Freedman is able to extract deeper emotions from the song that were only hinted at previously.

His two original works, “Laughing Child” and “Lives At Stake,” find their inspiration outside of jazz, as the former could easily be a pop crossover piece with the right vocalist. The latter veers sharply into leftfield territory, taking its cues from minimalist composers like Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Even as a bonus track, it’s an odd note to conclude the album on, but still fascinating.

Hats off to Dan Freedman for his disciplined yet daring performances. It is because of them that
Art Attack is more than just an album, but a force of nature.

Jason Smith
Both Sides Of The Surface