I thought after this last neck operation that I was done, that the piano was over. What happened? Well, it has been happening over the last 25 years (many CD's, gigs etc. during that time), but it's one of those things that you just keep quiet as you don't want to scare off folks. The short of it is I've lost the use of a good part of my body, including my hands and vocal cords, at three different times in my life and have had to come back from these depths. I didn't think I'd be able to after this last episode, but here I am! And so I am telling the story and hoping you will celebrate with me. I'm not sure if it's stubborness or not, but I ain't going anywhere.
This particular CD is a solo CD. There is nowhere to hide. About half of the tracks are from before the last and hopefully final operation and the others are from after. I am grateful to say that no one can tell the difference! I really don't know how that can be, but that is the real story.
Now onto the music.
I have a love of many different kinds of music: standards, blues, Brazilian, Latin, jazz, 60's and 70's rock and I also like composing and arranging. I am known as a jazz player in NYC and have made my living in the music world for a heck of a long time. I know I don't look the part of a jazzer. I also know that not all folks think they like jazz. Of course everyone has their own definition of what jazz is. I like music that is grooving and accessible. I like people to recognize and feel it along with me. Jazz is obviously a language with a history, but equally important to me it is that it is an attitude of bringing your own unique ideas to the music in the moment; allowing yourself and your listeners to ride a pretty exciting wave. The more experience you have allowing this to happen, the more people can relax and enjoy it with you. It's trust, in a way. Music is in itself an truly amazing thing, but the fact that it effects people is really quite astonishing and something that I don't take for granted. I am grateful to be able to do this with my life.
I hope you'll pick up this CD as well as some of my others. Below are some past reviews and quotes for different things. As reviews come in for this one I will include them.
Hope you enjoy!
“Your music sounds great. It made me feel good about things.” Guitarist, Jim Hall, December 2011
“Your playing reminds me of mine.” Cedar Cedar Walton, 1985
“A distinctive touch….” Marian McPartland, 1992
“Explosive piano playing carrying the aura and variety of a big band with just bass and drums….” John Wilson, NY Times, 1994
“Nice stuff on U tube. You "was" swingin' .....thats for sure.” Bassist, Harvie S, January 2012
"Perhaps the best vocal recording of "Don't Blame Me"...." Jonathan Schwartz, WNYC
“I love your piano playing and I love your singing.” David Nui, proprietor of Shanghai Jazz, NJ, March 2007
“Janice Friedman, the agile pianist who creatively mixes melody and rhythm into intriguing, beguiling performances has been playing piano since she was 4- and began rendering classic American standards not long after. Now she knows about 2,000 evergreens, and rolls them out whenever she can. Her zest comes out in her performances….” Zan Stewart, Star-Ledger, May 9, 2008
A fluent and fluid pianist with her ear pegged to the best notes, Janice Friedman is an artist who can lift your spirits. Along with her keyboard talents, she possesses a warm alto voice that can deliver anything from emotive to percolating songs. Friedman delivered her wares with gusto on her 2006 CD, "Swingin' for the Ride" (Janika Music), and will do so again Thursday, 7-9:30 p.m., at Shanghai Jazz, 24 Main St., Madison. Bassist Matt Hughes will add a fat bottom to the proceedings. No music charge; $20 minimum. Call (973) 822-2899 or visit shanghaijazz.com. Zan Stewart, Star-Ledger, April 14, 2009
“This is a musician with chops to burn on two instruments—piano and voice, with a deep well of compositional as well as improvisational ideas, many muses but a very individual style. Just listen…..” Andrea Canter, Jazz Police and Jazz Ink, May 2007
“Janice Friedman has brought her solid style of piano playing to several albums….The opening tune, Friedman’s “Swingin' for the Ride,” is presented in an Oscar Brown Jr.-type musical environment with a tale that is both saucy and irresistible. As a vocalist, Friedman approaches a lyric with respect for the melody, which may earn her comparison to someone like Chet Baker. Friedman gives inspired readings…She even presents a stimulating and different version of the Gershwins' “Summertime,” the biggest surprise on the album….”Michael P. Gladstone, All About Jazz, 10/04/07
“First things first: Friedman is fluid modern jazz pianist of imagination and driving swing. She plays beautifully on ballads, up-tempo numbers, and bossas, easily digging the chords for improvised gold…. Modest singing in the hands of a terrific musician, which means that it is used with musical care and success. Friedman sings narrowly and directly…useing wit, rhythm, and personality to let the songs shine…letting the singing sit at the center of the disc without calling flashy attention to itself. The bonus of Swingin’ with the Ride is the body of original songs offered amidst the classics. The title track has a funky jazz groove that would not shame either Horace Silver or Eddie Harris.
Will Laymen, Popmatters.com, 8/2007
New York pianist and singer Janice Friedman has a most agreeable, accessible style as a pianist and singer. That style -- which falls into the melodically-rich, rhythmically-flowing modern mainstream category -- is clearly on display on Friedman's 2006 CD, "Swingin' For the Ride" (Janika Musik). Zan Stewart, New Jersey Star Ledger, 9/2007
“…Jazz pianist-jazz vocalist Janice Friedman will give you everything including joy, jazz, animation, & her take on what strong jazz vocalese & solid improvisational jazz piano are all about!! Friedman stands out strongly both as a jazz pianist & singer, but I must include a reference to the interpretive quality she brings to whatever she sings- a forte for her indeed! Her sense of pianistic rhythmic brinkmanship & the mellow content of her voice is manifest in her performance. Stimulating & emotionally inspirational are words that come to mind in my attempt to dissect her wonderful talent(s).” EJazznews.com, 3/2007
“Better known as a jazz pianist/ band leader, Janice Friedman has sung over the years, but Swingin' for the Ride is the first CD on which she sings on all tracks. As her own pianist, the album still very much keeps the spotlight on her excellent piano work and it's a real joy to hear. Mood-wise, the emphasis is solidly on happiness and the musicality is solid. Janice's piano playing, which gets ample time, is fleet and engaging. Her singing voice is in a natural, unfettered style. She approaches the lyric with a warm, direct way. Janice is unpretentious and refreshing. They swing indeed and this is a feel-good, happy ride….” Talkin’Broadway.com, 5/2007
“Pianist Janice Friedman's robustly swinging style, and her talents as a delightfully natural vocalist, are on display on her solid, enjoyable new CD. The title tune rocks à la Ramsey Lewis.” Jill McManus, Newark Star Ledger, May 2007
“Like other instrumentalists turned sometime vocalists Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson and Buddy Rich, Friedman’s innate musicality enables her to parlay a slightly coarse, suede-like sound into a style as appealing and intelligent as that of Baker or Annie Ross….” Christopher Loudon, Jazz Times, 8/2007
“What a surprise! Her alto voice has more body than Julie London's, but she has the same effortless approach to the songs that London had…. But, for the biggest surprise of all, her compositions are worthy of becoming standards. If this were released by a major label with proper promotion, it would sell plenty. This is the best new album I've heard in months.” Russel Moon, Organissimo Jazz Chat Room, 3/2007
“…Long story short, why do we like her? ….Friedman isn’t derivative, isn’t imitative, she just has the Allison vibe down in a sincere way and plays it from the heart without sounding the slightest bit like a joker. On top of that, she does it without being too hip for the room. A really cool set by a piano ace that goes the extra mile without breaking a sweat.” Chris Spector, Midwest Record.com, 2/7/2007 Russel Moon, Organissimo Jazz Chat Room, 3/2007
“Widely recognized for her excellent jazz piano mastery, she has added vocalizing to her performing talents, the fine results of which are evident on "Swingin’ for the Ride" (Janika Musik – J82105). This is definitely a swingin’ ride from Friedman and her crew, one that grows more savory with each return visit.” Joe Lang, The Jersey Jazz Society, May, 2007
“Long time pianist, songwriter and arranger adds lyricist to her résumé as the Janice Friedman Trio gives listeners Swingin’ for the Ride. Friedman parlays vocalist and keyboardist to her arsenal as she gives us jazzy beats that are both cool and sultry and speedy and danceable.….Depending on your mood, you can pick (a tune) which fits your current musical disposition.” Sari N. Kent, The Celebrity Café.com, 3/12/2007
“Usually known strictly for her piano chops, Ms. Friedman has thrown her hat into the vocalist ring and has put out a surprisingly successful disc. With her voice akin to a female Mose Allison, Friedman saunters through a streetwise title song and snappy "You 'n' Me." Her takes on standards like "Summertime" and "Meditation" are quite clever and iconoclastic. Her own originals show depth and perception. "The 'I Do' Song" is as clever as anything Dave Frishberg could have composed. As usual, Friedman's piano work features clarity and alacrity…” George W. Harris, JazzWeekly.com, 3/12/2007
“Janice Friedman is best known as a talented pianist who is kept busy in the New York area. Swingin’ For The Ride is a change of pace for she is also featured as a singer….Friedman, who clearly has no difficulty accompanying herself on piano, performs seven standards and five of her originals. Her renditions of such warhorses as “I Can’t Give You Anything But Love,” “Don’t Blame Me” and even “Summertime” are fresh while her own songs are thoughtful and contain insightful lyrics. Her voice is quite musical with catchy phrasing and subtle improvising. But taking honors is her piano playing, which displays her own personality within the modern mainstream of jazz. She does not sound like anyone else yet is quite accessible and melodic even at her most creative.” Scott Yanow, Los Angeles Jazz Scene, April 2007
“Beautiful and excellent!! Very good singing, playing, nice arrangements and a great band. I love your music and honestly hope that you find international recognition. Best wishes and love fromFrankfurt.” Robert Lochmann a.k.a. Jazzmadass, Radio X, Frankfurt, Germany, 3/12/2007
“Friedman's voice can sound sultry or joyous, depending on a song's atmosphere and mood. (She) has created a highly listenable collection of original jazz tunes mixed with several classics. Friedman and her bandmates sound well-integrated; the interplay between the musicians reminds me, at times, of the Bill Evans Trio. Friedman delivers the goods, swinging on every tune in a tasteful, infectious style. Swingin' For The Ride is chock full of eloquently arranged tunes and tasteful piano solos. Friedman knows her way around her chosen instrument. I recommend this session for listeners who appreciate heartfelt, joyous jazz with meaningful lyrics" http://www.cosmik.com/aa-april-july07/reviews/review_janice_friedman_trio.html
“Janice has a wonderful voice, rich and soft - a pleasure to listen to. But where this release really hits the spot is in the wonderful, swinging style of Janice's piano playing. The release is so very aptly named because all the tunes really do swing.” Mark Robinson, GeorgeFM, New Zealand, 3/11/2007
“I play her version of “I Can’t Give You Anything but Love” that was many times covered by well-known by Ella Fitzgerald…so you have to be good to sing this song and Janice Friedman is that good as well. Music to listen to often.” Jan Nederveen, Radio 794, Netherlands, 3/9/2007
“Janice, Nice tunes and splendid sonics Babes! Cool and jammy laid back vibes delivered with a smooth 'n' solid style. I love your writing (Swingin', Fairytale, I Do). WRITE MORE!! Nice that you included the Braz tunes (yay Jobim) in your mix. Nice job. I'll be playing you lots this summer on my 'COOL JOOLZ" show and on my year round shows too. Mitchell Mendys, WKNH, New Hampshire, 4/25/2007
“Fantastic Album. Geat stuff for our Radio Station.” Alex Pijnen, BRTO Radio, Netherlands, 2/12/2007
“I love this album. I am featuring on my International Woman's Day Jazz programme. And it is so great that Janice has come out of hiding as far as vocals are concerned. It made my heart sing when she said that the words were always important to her when working on arrangements and interpretations. They are SONGS! The original compositions are wonderful as well…..A fantastic work.” Helen Jarroe, FM89.1, Cairns Queensland Australia, 3/1/2007
“Very refreshing vocal jazz, nice and cool original compositions (most of the album actually) together with a few standards bearing a personal touch, what more would you ask...well I should mention that Janice Friedman not only delivers an excellent vocal performance but she is also quite good at the piano.” Pascal Dorban 'Jazz.com' programme Radio ARA, Luxembourg, 2/19/2007
“Your timing like your music is impeccable. This CD will receive extremely good air-time due in fact to the wonderful quality, feel, musician ship and compositions.”Peter Merritt, PBSFM, Australia, 1/7/2007
“Swingin' for the Ride is a real surprise for me. I had never heard of Janice Friedman before this delightful release. The opening track immediately puts you in a happy swinging mood. Her playing is great as is her singing. Also very much liked her compositions and choice of standards. A first class release!”Jacques Emond, CKCU-FM, Galaxie Ottawa International Jazz Festival, 4/07
“This is one swinging CD...” Brenda Budd, Swing2Jazz, Quebec, 4/22/07
“…with imagination and creative arrangements. The recording is crystal clear adding to a good session.” D. Oscar Groomes O's Place Jazz Newsletter, Illinois, 4/07
“This is a great disc. The trio and the vocals are excellent.” David McCrory, 105.9 and 93.5, Australia, 2/18/2007
“Dear Friend in good music, Your CD is very, very good.” Maurizio Benvenuti, Radio Incontro, Italy, 4/07
“Excellent, smooth ride with moody jazz vibrations.” Vasja Ivanovski, 94.1FM Radio 2, Macedonia
“Really must say (I am) very happy with what I hear. My compliments. Really like the arrangements and choice of titles and will be my pleasure to present your CD in my program.” Joost van Steen, Alphen Stad FM, Netherlands
“The Janice Friedman Trio has recorded a wonderful CD that smacks of musical excitement. The vocals are true and dynamic. Check the opening track…that will have you on the floor dancing and singing as well. I give it my thumbs up!” Leon Reyes KVMR Radio 89.5 FM Nevada City/Sacramento Ca Host: Leon's Jazz In A Box, 3/07
“Love it, love it, love it!!!!!!!” Sean Pelton, drummer for Saturday Night Live
“I’m a fan of yours.” Ronny White, pianist/vocalist, April 2007
“Janice Friedman's Swingin for the Ride lives up to its title. Her singing and piano styling are first rate. We especially like "I Can't Give You Anything But Love" . ."Meditation". . ."I Didn't What Time It Was"Bob Collins The Jazz Cafe WRHU Hempstead, NY, May 29, 2007
“Interesting album with many twists within. Great work, Loved 'Track 8' "The I Do Song". thanks from the Team here at Soundwave FM, Napier, New Zealand, May 25, 2007
“Stunning sound….” Michael Criddle, Triple H FM, April, 2007
“Janice Friedman, born in the Bronx, New York, has been listening to jazz since she was a wee lass. She's been playing since the age of 5. After college, she moved to Brooklyn and played gigs in clubs and bars, even toured with the Woody Herman Orchestra for 6 months. One can hear throughout the disk how the rhythm section is attuned to Friedman's every move. They never overplay, giving the pianist a sweet cushion to solo upon and she does with a bluesy elegance. Listen to how the piano and vocals are one on "Is You Is" and her sweet piano interjections on "I Can't Give You Anything But Love.” http://blogs.courant.com/richard_kamins/2007/04/ladies_aloud.html
"Every once in a while you go to a cabaret show where the performers not only are great entertainers, great vocalists, and put on a great show, but they also seem to be having a lot of fun doing it! Such was the case on Monday night, June 20th, when I went to see jazz/cabaret vocalist Mary Foster Conklin and songwriter/vocalist Mark Winkler at THE LAURIE BEECHMAN THEATRE. Adding to the fun and song were Janice Friedman on piano, Greg Ryan on bass and Ron Vincent on Drums. By the way, the band not only supported the performers, they actually enhanced the evening's
performances (so often jazz band members try to upstage vocalists). Much fun - 4 BRAVOS and 4 BRAVAS - and a bunch of HURRAYS for the band!" Cabaret Hotline site. Stu Hamstra
Oh, how I wish I knew Shepley Metcalf so I could’ve slipped her a note saying, “Don’t worry. You’re literally in good hands!” when she had to go onstage with a very last-minute substitute pianist in the trio. I’d seen serene and accomplished Janice Friedman swing it and wing it with other jazz singers and admired her own CD, so I had no doubts. Attentive and supportive, she aced it and added her own richness to songs not heretofore known/recorded. Rob Lester
Cabaret ScenesMarch 19, 2011 www.cabaretscenes.org
Janice Friedman at the Kitano©Andrea Canter
Three nights in Manhattan, four gigs at four clubs. Just an ordinary weekend in the Big Apple?
Janice Friedman Trio at The Kitano, January 26. I first encountered pianist/vocalist Janice Friedman via a review copy of her 2007 trio release, Swingin’ for the Ride. It was her third CD but her first with her own vocals. Not long after, I met her in New York when she was playing with Judi Silvano’s Women’s Work ensemble. But it was another four years before I managed a New York visit that coincided with her performance schedule. And The Kitano is a perfect setting to enjoy Janice Friedman, the intimacy of the small club/sushi bar enhanced for me with a table literally four feet from the piano. The first set was sold out (meaning about fifty jammed in like a spicy tuna roll) and for Janice it was like a party in her living room. Her cohorts—bassist Ed Howard and drummer Will Dyson—added to the feel of accomplished artists kicking back with friends.
It was a wide-ranging set of sophisticated swing and post-bop invention, from standards (“Old Devil Moon,” “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was,” “Dindi”), all featuring Janice on both vocals and piano, to the less-often heard Mickey Leonard masterpiece, “I’m All Smiles”—which Janice chose to perform as an instrumental. The highlight for me was the trio’s all-instrumental interpretation of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” which evolved from a Jarrettish blues to a more exalted statement worthy of Abdullah Ibrahim. Maybe Paul Simon is an untapped treasure chest for jazz experiments? The set closed with the always up-beat “St. Thomas,” with a couple surprise guests, harmonica ace Will Galison and a young man identified as “Josh” who offered a combination of juggling and percussion, swinging a contraption of balls that lit up like holiday ornaments. It was a wild end to down-home evening that seemed predicated on everyone’s love for the music, from the bandstand to the far corner of the bar. Janice plays with creative panache and a little bit of that “old devil moon” glint in her eye; she sings—and scats-- with comfortable authority. And her colleagues give playful and savvy support—like family." Andrea Canter, Feb 3, 2012