Cellist Erik Friedlander has played classical music and with leaders as diverse as Joe Lovano, John Zorn, Harvie Swartz and Dar Williams as well as leading his own groups Topaz and Chimera. His cello technique is both impeccable & impassioned, and his compositions varied in their approaches. SKIN does not "swing" like "some" jazz, yet Friedlander harnesses improvisation, rhythmic impetus (drawing equally from "free" jazz, post-bop and various East European folk traditions), tight arrangements (the tracks here run 3-6 minutes) and frameworks for soloists that allow for inspired freedom. SKIN is replete with moody, contemplative tunes and ensemble playing. Featured prominently are the tart, fluid alto sax of Andy Laster and the guitar-like tones of Stomu Takeishi's electric bass. Friedlander evokes Charles Mingus without ever sounding like him on the unaccompanied "Golden Dawn" (imagine Mingus growing up in Vienna or Prague in the 30s) and the essence of Balkan folk music throughout. SKIN is a very fine album that grows on you.