ERIK FRIEDLANDER | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Cellist Erik Friedlander is an integral part of New York's new-music community, where his ability to improvise and handle difficult arrangements has made him a valuable collaborator for folks like John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Sylvie Courvoisier, and Mark Feldman. He's also played pop sessions with everyone from Joss Stone to the Mountain Goats. But on his forthcoming solo album Block Ice & Propane (Skipstone) he uses the cello to craft a distinctive brand of Americana--inspired, he's said, by camper trips he took with his family as a child. (His father, photographer Lee Friedlander, planned them around work assignments.) The guitar was Friedlander's first instrument, and although his arco work is great, the record's most striking passages come when he puts down the bow and plays pizzicato, getting a twangy, rolling sound reminiscent of fingerstyle guitarists like John Fahey and Leo Kottke. This music, with its parched ambience, would serve well as a soundtrack to vistas from the southwest and the Great Plains: its slow-moving melodies and hovering textures seem borne by the wind. Here Friedlander will perform cuts from the album on his own, then improvise with drummer Tim Daisy. a 10 PM, Elastic, 2830 N. Milwaukee, 773-772-3616, donation requested. A --Peter Margasak

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