Inspired by Bud Powell and Bill Evans, Don Friedman (b. 1935) is a fine modern mainstream pianist who has developed his own personal approach to trio playing.
Born in San Francisco, Friedman studied classical music extensively. He began his career in 1956 as part of the West Coast jazz scene, working in the Los Angeles area during the next couple of years with Dexter Gordon, Shorty Rogers, Buddy Collette, Buddy DeFranco, Chet Baker and the then-unknown altoist Ornette Coleman. Friedman moved to New York in 1958, working with Pepper Adams, Booker Little, and his own trio.
Don Friedman recorded his first four albums for the Riverside label during 1961-1964. A Day in the Life, performed with bassist Chuck Israels and drummer Joe Hunt, is particularly intriguing for it consists of six diverse variations of a theme taken from an ancient folk song and symbolizing the different times of the day. Circle Waltz, with Pete LaRoca in Hunt’s place, is very much in the style of Bill Evans, mixing together originals with standards including a solo piano version of "So in Love.” Flashback, with bassist Dick Kniss and drummer Dick Berk, is more hard bop-oriented, ranging from "Ballade in C-Sharp Minor” and "News Blues” to the title cut. Guitarist Attila Zoller makes the group a quartet on the adventurous Dreams and Explorations.
Friedman’s next recording, Metamorphosis, was recorded for Prestige in 1966 and also features Zoller along with bassist Richard Davis and drummer Joe Chambers digging into six originals.
Don Friedman has continued his career up to the present time. Along the way he worked for a year with guitarist Chuck Wayne’s trio, was a member of Clark Terry’s big band, toured with Lee Konitz, and became a well-respected educator.