Erik Friedlander - Block Ice & Propane: As a jazz cellist, you may not think you've heard Friedlander but you've heard this dude and probably didn't know it, I would bet. He's been all over the music industry backing artists from Dave Douglas and John Zorn to Alanis Morissette and Joss Stone. If you've heard popular music, and even unpopular music, in the past 20 years or so, you've likely heard him somewhere and not known it.
In between all those sessions, he's quietly worked on a fascinating catalog of his own music, from the multi-cultural Topaz group to straight solo albums of just him on cello. This is one of the latter, a disc of solo recordings on which the cellist plays his instrument in pretty much every possible way a stringed instrument could be played - bowed, plucked, and even strummed like a guitar. While that makes for interesting listening for those intrigued by unusual techniques, what should appeal to listeners is how grounded he makes his playing - he is no mere chart-reader.
Friedlander's gift is that he connect emotionally with the listener, and reportedly on Block Ice & Propane he blends his considerable talents in jazz and avant garde with genres not necessarily associated with the cello such as Americana and bluegrass. It kind of sounds like a nightmare, but the little I've heard prove exactly the opposite. This is likely to be one of the more intriguing listens among jazz's 2007 releases.