For the past ten years, Erik Friedlander has performed with artists as diverse as Joe Lovano, John Zorn and Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg.
Erik is a classically trained cellist who maintains a wide-ranging performance schedule while he continues to focus his vision as a composer and an improviser. Friedlander has always worked to stake out new ground for the cello in both his compositional choices and his dynamic improvising style. His music blends his vision of what the cello can be pushed to do, while maintaining a firm grasp on traditions, both improvising and classical. Recent recordings from Erik include Grains of Paradise (Tzadik), and Topaz and SKIN from the now defunct SIAM Records.
Erik has recorded or toured the US and Europe with Joe Lovano, John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Marty Ehrlich and Myra Melford. Erik is principal cellist with Marin Alsop’s Concordia and he has contributed improvised parts to CDs by Laurie Anderson, Dar Williams, Maxwell and appeared with Courtney Love’s band, Hole, on MTV’s Unplugged!. CHIMERA, a band formed by Erik in 1994, has two CD's currently available; Chimera on Avant records, and The Watchman on Tzadik.
TOPAZ, the combo heard on Quake, was established in 1996. The original lineup consisted of Erik on cello, Stomu Takeishi on bass and Andy Laster on alto saxophone. Stomu's contrapuntal five-string fretless bass can be heard on recordings with Paul Motian and Henry Threadgill's Make a Move band. Laster has worked with Lyle Lovett, Bobby Previte and The Julius Hemphill Sextet, as well as with his own band Hydra. Friedlander was excited by the TOPAZ trio but he knew that something was holding them back. The compositions demanded more rhythmic drive so Erik turned to Stomu's brother, percussionist Satoshi Takeishi, who has performed with Eliane Elias and Herbie Mann. His intelligent, dynamic playing and his eclectic Taiko, frame and steel drum setup added the missing element which Friedlander had been searching for. In December of 1997 Erik brought TOPAZ into the studio to record their first recording for SIAM Records, TOPAZ, which was released in February 1999.