Erik Friedlander – Dirty Boxing (ENG review)

Skipstone Records – Street Date June 28th 2024
Jazz moderne
Erik Friedlander – Dirty Boking

The cellist and composer Erik Friedlander is preparing to release his album “Dirty Boxing,” and at the sight of the title, one cannot help but wonder if there is a connection to the film “Dirty Dancing.” The answer is both yes and no. Exploring unexpected parallels between the disciplined art of music and the strategic combat of mixed martial arts, Friedlander and his bandmates deliver powerful performances that blend intensity, grace, and a touch of combative spirit. The resulting sonic odyssey is sure to leave listeners astonished and perhaps a bit stunned.

Indeed, while it is easy to engage with the first CD that starts with the track “Sprawl,” from my point of view, the second CD has more to do with classical or even medieval music, sounding incongruous with the first element to such an extent that I took the time to listen to them repeatedly to form an opinion, ultimately disregarding the second CD, which is too far removed from the realm of jazz. The first CD, starting with its first track, truly gives an impression of combat—rhythm and complex music skillfully highlighted by sumptuous arrangements.

“I’ve had a growing fascination with mixed martial arts for about 3-4 years now. The pure intensity with which these athletes challenge themselves in the octagon is captivating. It’s a kind of intensity I can identify with,” said Friedlander. “Playing, in a way, is about testing yourself, expressing what matters to you, and sharing your passions. And no one gets hurt in the process!” On the CD version of Dirty Boxing, listeners are treated to a bonus project by Friedlander: Floating City. Floating City is a special project featuring Sara Serpa on vocals, Wendy Eisenberg on guitar, Mark Helias on bass, and Friedlander on cello.

The first two tracks are quite exhausting to listen to, like a fight—you’re hit from all sides, the notes evade and return. Having played the cello myself, I know how distant this instrument is from this genre of music. Erik Friedlander’s perspective is primarily shaped by contemporary classical music; undoubtedly, like many of us, he has been influenced by the works of Béla Bartók, and something of that influence remains. The compositions struggle to stay within the jazz spirit, making it challenging for the listener to maintain a deep listening focus. I believe this type of album makes more sense on stage than on a record.

The musical feat is certainly interesting, to be taken as a curiosity, hoping that these works are performed live, as this kind of music thrives when confronting an audience capable of capturing the moment. While listening to this album was more of a trial than a pleasure for me, it will surely satisfy many others and has earned three stars in the Bayou Blue Radio/Paris-Move album rankings.

Thierry De Clemensat
USA correspondent – Paris-Move and ABS magazine
Editor in chief Bayou Blue Radio, Bayou Blue News

PARIS-MOVE, June 26th 2024

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To buy this album



  1. Sprawl (05:29)
  2. Foot Stomp (4:41)
  3. Shrimping (Mod 9) (04:44)
  4. Ground and Pound (Mod 1) (03:30)
  5. D’Arce (Mod 2) (3:28)
  6. Contender (03:46)
  7. Submission (04:55)
  8. Kimura (4:19)