Core Bacharach is a Bacharach tribute, but I have to confess that I'm far from the world's biggest Burt Bacharach / Hal David fan. It's not that I don't recognize how well their music fits its intended niche but that it's just too damn shallow for a critic who reviews everything from King Crimson to Morton Subotnick to Bill Emerson to Mike Keneally to, borrowing a riff from the Firesign Theatre, gas music from Jupiter. However, Love knocked my ears off in the 60s with their version of Little Red Book and, later, I really started to dig what cats like Benson, Byrd, Szabo, and others could do with soft-rock compositions. Ahhhhhhh, but then Earl Klugh arrived on the scene and just slew me for a long long time. Through such interpreters is where I pay my respects, I find, and Fred Fried & Core now join the roster of musicians kindly bent to unveil a dimension invisible to we who just don't have the knack.
Playing a nylon-strung acoustic guitar with verve, invention, and a wealth of absolutely brilliant inflections, Fried digs deeply into the emotionality of the content in the Burt catalogue, finding depths I never guessed existed there. Hidden narrative lines emerge, imagery, painted settings, no end of materials. Part of this derives in his choice to go from the 7-string axe of one of his teachers, the highly regarded George van Eps, to an 8-string, adding signifcantly to the instrument's tonal palette, but even that doesn't explain the wizardry in the player's insights. Lots and lots of improv occurs, as you'll well guess, though some songs are straight forward, but the melody is always recognizable as the jumping-off point. You might Walk on By the original avenue in the song, but Fried shows you the whole neighborhood, not just that one lovelorn street.
He's aided in trio format by bassist Michael Lavoie, a player quite as inventive as the guitarist and for whom I fail to find comparatives, his approach just too individualistic. Then there's Miki Matsuki, and she dials in the drums to simultaneously provide the bedrock rhythm duty while tossing in all kinds of embellishments while laying out terra firma and percussive feedback. With these two accompanists, Fried constantly goes full throttle even when laid back, and the result is hands down so far the best take on the esteemed writers. In fact, Core Bacharach will occupy a place on my jazz shelf next to the treasured copy of Klugh's Trio, Vol.1 but I greatly fear for the future! Is it possible someone like this guy will be able to make—dare I say it?—even Abba's music bearable? The soul quails but, after this, I'm ready.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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