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JAZZ REVIEWS : Dave Frishberg on Sunny Side of Vine St.

December 05, 1987|LEONARD FEATHER

Dave Frishberg is back in town, and suddenly Los Angeles is a lot brighter.

After a three-month hiatus awaiting a new addition to his family, the hippest of all song writers/pianists/singers reopened Thursday at the Vine St. Bar & Grill. As usual, he carries no rhythm section, or rather, he is his own rhythm team: His left hand is the bassist, his right hand is the dreamer, his right foot is the drummer.

Though his stock in trade also encompasses poignancy and nostalgia, the first word that comes to mind in evaluating Frishberg is wit. Even his quizzical piano introductions, interludes and solos have an overlay of humor, but of course the lyrics (many of them matched by his own melodies, a few with music by Zoot Sims, Johnny Mandel and others) have always been his longest, strongest suit.

Most of his songs have persons, real or imagined, in their titles. Possibly on the advice of his attorney Bernie, he has constructed odes to Brenda Starr, Marilyn Monroe, a turn-of-the-century ballplayer named Matty, and, of course, Bernie himself.

It is as easy as ever to chuckle one's way through such staples as "Blizzard of Lies;" however, the inclusion of a couple of new songs was a welcome bonus. His introductory comment that "this next number was written while Ollie North was on the stand" was enough to set up the ensuing piece, "Long as You're Looking Good," for a blizzard of laughs.

Frishberg at the keyboard is a personality unto himself. His solo medley consisted of an arcane set of songs Ivie Anderson sang with Duke Ellington's orchestra, most of them when he was not yet in grade school. As a pianist he is also a valuable archivist.

Though this has been said quite often before, it needs to be mentioned again: Frishberg is a cogent, sardonically entertaining bard whose words and aptly conjoined music may be the best commentary on our times since the days of Johnny Mercer. He will be at Vine St. through Sunday.

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