A ubiquitous Viennese figure in the early 1700s, Francesco Conti was one of several gifted Italian Baroque composers who settled in foreign lands. If Caldara remains the most durable Italian figure in Vienna, Conti's star — on this evidence — deserves to be dusted down and given a second chance. These four cantatas from eight Cantate am istromenti probably date from the first decade of the century and feature the most delectable plethora of obbligato instruments imaginable.
For Friedman's fifth recording, he is definitely exploring the progressive edges of modern mainstream post-bop. He's more sublimated as a voice, with guitarist Attila Zoller taking a prominent role as frontman, while the performances of bassist Richard Davis and drummer Joe Chambers provide perfect foils for Friedman's swashbuckling creative urges. While the pianist utilizes elements stemming from bop and the avant garde, the melodic and listenable ingredients are juxtaposed with challenging ideas, and the leader acts as a true ringleader in the midst of his three brilliant compadres. "Wakin' Up" starts the six tracks in a quirky, mid-swing waltz; Zoller's signature clipped, staccato leads and the innovative Davis' ruminating bass chords identify a sound prevalent throughout.