NEW Review – June, 2017 “All Through the Night”
It’s no secret among professional musicians that the elite military jazz ensembles such as the “U.S. Army Blues,” the Air Force’s “Airmen of Note,” and the Navy’s “Commodores” consist of some of the finest musicians on the planet. Trumpeter Craig Fraedrich, recently-retired 30-year Army Bandsman, his Trilogy crew, and vocalist Christal Rheams are spit-shining examples. And, All Through the Night which features Fraedrich and his former military colleagues in this civilian recording session certainly confirms that.
Fraedrich is one of those players, known by those in the know, as a swinging, technically superior, jazz artist —and it’s no different on this date. Stepping off, his crew cuts into the old Al Jolson workhorse, “Avalon”—here an up-tempoed burner—after Rheams opens the swinging melodic door and pianist Tony Nalker offers a very tasty Boppish solo. Rheams shows fine pipes here and throughout the entire session. Reserved, yet swinging, she plays things straight covering Charlie Chaplin’s ballad, “Smile”—usually a sentimental album closer. The entire group fires up “Without a Song,” which features a “Cute”-like interplay between pianist Tony Nalker and drummer Todd Harrison.
It is interesting that half of this album’s cuts are traditionals or selections usually associated with iconic artists (Marian Anderson, Lena Horne, Billie Holiday). The challenge, of course, would be for any artist to offer unique perspectives without straying far from the tried and true. “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen” is delivered triple-metered straight with Rheams carrying the melodic and emotional weight and with Fraedrich tastefully Harmonizing for “Miles” on end. Later, “Motherless Child” is sent up dark blue, deep, and heavier-pulsing with the group playing at its emotional peak. Trad tale “Frankie and Johnny” here is another cooker where all shine. “The Gospel Truth,” a Fraedrich original, has the leader plunging his way on, calling and responding with Nalker, as he spews the Word. It’s a neat, fun cut. “Strange Fruit” is, as you’d expect, a horrific, sad tale wherein Rheams and all show their dramatic skills and rip hearts out. There’s more melodrama and fine singing by Rheams on “I Am a Poor Wayfaring Stranger.”
Fraedrich is player who has a focused, inviting Kenny Dorham-esque sound on “Blues Another Day.” Favoring longer improvised lines, his playing has shades of both Freddie Hubbard in technical chops and certainly KD in lyricism. He parlays ideas from nuggets and expands on them in length there and on the bucket o’ slow funk, “St. James Infirmary,” which also features a nice Paul Henry bass solo. “All Through the Night,” no pure lullaby here, is offered as a tasty vamp-ish conclusion to the session.
All Through the Night is a very distinctive and most enjoyable album which, when inspected, confirms that hard-snap salutes are indeed the order of the day. Fall in. ALL ABOUT JAZZ, Nicholas F. Mondello
Although the personnel on this CD is (with the exception of Dave Liebman) fairly obscure, do not let that deter you from acquiring this highly enjoyable disc. Craig Fraedrich is an impressive trumpeter with and appealing tone and his well-planned release features three distinct groups playing modern and often adventurous bop. Many of these Washington D.C. – based musicians take excellent solos, particularly tenors Tony Malaby and John DeSalme, Liebman, and the leader himself. Well worth searching for. JAZZTIMES
Yes there is good jazz in Virginia; no, New York has no corner on the good players. Craig Fraedrich and his compatriots are case in point. These 1988 and 1990 recordings by a group of considerable D.C. area musicians may have difficulty vying for your attention amidst the flood of Gotham based goodies, but given half a chance Fraedrich and company will make many friends. Craig Fraedrich is a brass man of admirable facility and heartfelt tone. Kenny Wheeler comes most immediately to mind. Fraedrich is the leader and most auspicious/conspicuous soloist on these dates. There is an openness to these original compositions that bodes well for Fraedrichs future. …Both releases are marked by tight ensembles, clear, clean execution and admirable studio values. . ..Fraedrich and company admirably stay the course of originality… JAZZTIMES
None of these albums were recorded for a major label and none feature musicians just barely out of their teens. So while the lions share of the press, airplay and gigs will still probably go to the Hargroves, Holidays, and DeFrancescos, the musicians here will continue to labor in relative obscurity. Which is too bad because given the chance, so many of these over looked players turn out recordings like these -CDs that bristle with more invention, depth and vision than most of what the current hotshots are able to muster CADENCE Fraedrich has drunk deep the well of cool jazz. Theres a lot of the post-bop-with-modal leadings that Miles Davis inspired here, as well as the ambience and sensibility that characterized not only the great 1960s Blue Note recordings (Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter) but also the more traditional of the 1970s ECM albums. (Kenny Wheeler, Steve Kuhn) The playing is idiomatic, smooth and virtually flawless. …Fraedrich and company really are fine players who achieve both tight ensemble work and coherent, interesting improvisation. …You may enjoy this a lot and I recommend keeping an eye on this guy. OPTION MAGAZINE
This is music which arrives as the logical extension of Miles-ian modality. As much as New Age Bop might appear an oxymoron, it fits. This is not really bop, but its not not hop. Its contempo-bop, late 80s post-bop hop, free bop informed by the currents which daily wash against the jagged shoreline of Jazz… There may be no faulting the precision of the playing as an expression of the quartets conception… If melodic, moody and well played jazz is your meat, this CD will be a banquet… CADENCE MAGAZINE
FIRST FLIGHT showcases Fraedrichs considerable melodic strengths and warm tone without resorting to a long a listless series of impressionist ballads… Typical is Samsara, a gently alluring melody that gracefully shifts from fluegelhorn to bass to piano before returning to Fraedrichs capable hands. Foxs flowing rhapsody Almond Eyes, Fraedrichs muted performance on Blue and the brisk and boppish Pancho Marie also stand out on this
alternately seductive and swinging debut… THE WASHINGTON POST
A 75-minute plus program that ranges from Freddie Hubbardish straight ahead to ECM-impressionism. Fraedrichs trumpet has a warm clear tone and he maneuvers around the horn with deftness and imagination… The sound is perfect CD quality with none of the sterility one usually associates with digital recordings… FIRST FLIGHT is a solid release… OPTION MAGAZINE A straight-ahead cool hop session featuring Fraedrichs buttery Clifford Brown style trumpet and Robert Foxs Bill Evans like piano. Fraedrichs tight quartet cooks with insinuating craft… JAZZIZ