February 2006
Set In Stone

By Ted O'Reilly, Wholenote Magazine

This release offers a collection of eleven compositions by the late Freddie Stone, a Toronto composer/trumpeter of wide experience, including a stint in Duke Ellington’s orchestra. At the time of his death (at 51) he was most interested in developing further his earlier Third Stream interests, combining composition with free playing. Though there was nothing ‘weird’ about his work, Stone was certainly idiosyncratic and out of the mainstream.

Unfortunately, little notice of Stone has been taken in the nearly two decades since his passing, a situation remedied by the ironically titled “Set In Stone”: all is always in flux on this trio recording. Bassist George Koller worked/studied with Stone, and has been stalwart in championing his philosophy. Lorne Nehring does something few drummers seem to do these days: listens. The youngest player here, pianist David Braid, likely never met Fred Stone, but he follows the teacher’s edict to find “the uniqueness of their statement”, shining brightly on the whole record.

Some of these pieces will be instantly grasped by the listener, including D Minor Waltz, the Shostakovich-based Demetri’s (sic) Theme and Maiera, which even made it into the Ellington orchestra’s book when Stone was a member.

The sequencing was wisely-done, placing the freer, more spontaneous works towards the latter part of the disc. By that time a new listener will have adjusted ears and attitude to accept this interesting music.