The summer jazz season is starting a little early this year. Even before the annual deluge of talent filling Japan’s many festivals and clubs, two tours this May will more than whet the appetite for the busy summer season.

Pianist Don Friedman leaped into the West Coast jazz scene when it was in full swing. Playing with “big orange” jazz giants like Dexter Gordon and Chet Baker in the ’50s, he eventually moved to New York where his work with Joe Henderson, Herbie Mann and Clark Terry only confirmed his artistry. He has continued to play, teach and record there ever since. Incorporating both the relaxed cool of the West and the intense hard bop of the East, Friedman has a wonderfully lyrical style that is strong at even the fastest tempos. For this tour, he will work with just bass and drums, as he did on last year’s excellent “Waltz for Debby.” On Friedman’s previous tours of Japan, his sure-fingered playing ignited every solo. At the end of this tour they’ll be honored by a “505 session” to be broadcast on NHK.

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