Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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FRISHBERG, Dave

(b 23 March '33, St Paul MN) Songwriter, pianist, singer. Began on piano as a child; intended to be a journalist, but inspired by Jimmy Rowles on Woody Herman small-group records '46 to be a professional pianist. Studied journalism at college, elected music courses; served in USAF '55--6, started jingle company and worked at WNEW radio NYC; toured with Kai Winding, played with Al Cohn and Zoot Sims, Ben Webster; recorded with Jimmy Rushing on ABC- Paramount and RCA; accompanied Carmen McRae, Blossom Dearie, Johnny Tillotson, Odetta; met and learned from Johnny Mercer and Frank Loesser. Wrote 'Peel Me A Grape' for Dick Haymes and Fran Jeffries '62, funny songs to order for TV show The Funny Side '71 with Gene Kelly; worked with Herb Alpert, made an unreleased album with Anita O'Day '75. A very good pianist who obviously learned from Earl Hines, he began writing for himself and performing his own work with a trio, opening a Bing Crosby show in Concord CA '77. His are good American songs, marriages of music and words meant to be understood: witty, satirical and nostalgic at the same time, some are love songs in disguise, as Whitney Balliett described them. He told Balliett that Mercer and Loesser 'knew that good lyrics should be literate speech that says something in a lyrical way. They knew that good lyrics come up to the edge of poetry and turn left.' He wrote the tender, compassionate words to a Johnny Mandel tune that became 'You Are There' '78. Frishberg's voice is what Woody Allen might sound like if he were a cabaret singer, but he swings, and the slightly wimpish aspect helps the witty songs to complete success. The songs have been recorded by Dearie, Cleo Laine, etc; his own albums incl. an octet set '68 on CTI, Solo And Trio '75 on Seeds; two vols of Songbook on Omnisound; Getting Some Fun Out Of Life and You're A Lucky Guy (Classics is probably a CD compilation) and Let's Eat Home '89, all on Concord; Live At Vine Street '84 and Can't Take You Nowhere '87 on Fantasy (made live in Hollywood and San Francisco); Where You At? '92 on Bloomdido. Accompanies Rebecca Kilgore on Not A Care In The World on Arbors.