Pianist Roger Friedman's Going My Way? is a fine, sparkling jazz album, attesting to Friedman's affection for Brazilian music, the Great American Songbook and songwriting itself. The originals are the keepers, particularly the sweeping, complex "Love Is All We Know," the effervescent "Cinque Stelle" and "The Funkifier," a robust plunge into soul. Friedman's technique, always subordinate to the music, is astonishing but never self-indulgent, spanning the limpid lines of "7Notemode," the abstract, urgent "One for the Man" and the intricate, layered tropes of "Some Bluesy Thing."
Friedman is as comfortable with the conceptual as the sentimental, evidence of his command of jazz fundamentals (he studied with legendary bop pianist Ray Santisi at Boston's Berklee College of Music) and his ability to transcend influence. Credit also goes to his band: bassists Kip Reed (electric) and Marty Greenberg (acoustic), and drummer Matt Perko. They stretch the music, lending it pop and power and suggesting each should make a solo album. Perko, in particular, is explosive — yet, like Friedman, not self-indulgent. The tunes sequence well, their layers richening with each listen. Going My Way? isn't a question. It's an affirmative step in the jazz direction. — Carlo Wolff