The Valentine Trio began as a tribute project to the jazz cello great Fred Katz. The first record was titled A Valentine for Fred Katz and featured Katz's compositions and others he recorded. The bassist was Jason Roebke and the drummer was Glenn Kotche. The second record, Other Valentines covered compositions by a diverse collection of composers including Gil Scott-Heron, Syd Barrett, Jeff Tweedy, Sun Ra, Cat Power, as well as originals by Lonberg-Holm and Roebke. Frank Rosaly replaced Kotche. The third and most recent disc, Terminal Valentine, continues the same line-up and features original compositions by Fred Lonberg-Holm. The music for this record was conceived of for his dormant quartet Terminal Four. After trying the charts with Roebke and Rosaly, he decided to develop the book with the trio.
A Valentine For Fred Katz - ALP 139
Other Valentines - ALP 165
Terminal Valentine - ALP 180
Some stuff written about the most recent record:
Peter Margasak in his Chicago Reader blog Post No Bills:
Fred Lonberg-Holm originally formed what is sometimes called the
Valentine Trio back in 2000, when the group paid homage to pioneering
jazz cellist Fred Katz for a gig at the Empty Bottle jazz festival. The
trio has taken on a life of its own over the years, and its
just-released third album (billed to the Fred Lonberg-Holm Trio),
Terminal Valentine (Atavistic), is the first to feature all original
material. Still, Lonberg-Holm uses this particular vehicle to indulge
his interest in dark pop music—the second album included songs by Syd
Barrett, Jeff Tweedy, and Cat Power, among others—but that doesn’t stop
the group, rounded out by bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank
Rosaly, from pushing and pulling in any direction they want.
Tom Sekowski for Gaz-eta:
Troy Collins for allaboutjazz.com:
The highly expressive
cello is a cornerstone of the western classical canon, yet it remains a
marginalized instrument in the jazz world. Chicago-based cellist Fred
Lonberg-Holm sits atop a growing list of contemporary innovators
playing what is still classified as a “miscellaneous” instrument by
many mainstream jazz publications.
A former student of Morton Feldman and Anthony Braxton, Lonberg-Holm's virtuosity and versatility have been well-documented in the past decade, in such ensembles as Anthony Coleman's Selfhaters and God Is My Co-Pilot and Pillow, among others. Possessing a rich, resonant timbre and lyrical phrasing, combined with an unfettered curiosity for expressive textures, his approach is accessible yet adventurous.
With his sonorous, melancholy tone, he can seamlessly transform a rising glissando into dissonant, tortured territory for added emotional emphasis. Underscoring this inside-outside aesthetic are his intuitive trio-mates, who are anything but conventional accompanists. Drummer Frank Rosaly alternates between tumultuous clamor and pointillist sketches, carefully accenting the swinging rhythms with rubato strokes instead of strictly enforcing them. Bassist Jason Roebke provides a rich harmonic foundation for the trio with sensitive, dynamic time-keeping.
Expanding on typical notions of rhythm, melody and harmony, the trio reveals an enticing blend of avant-garde tenacity and pop song tunefulness as lyrically resplendent as it is sonically challenging. This new material features a slightly more muscular and passionate momentum, perhaps reflecting his recent forays with such sonic heavyweights as Peter Brotzmann's tentet, The Vandermark 5 and Italian power trio Zu.
As instrumental impressions of their titles, tunes like “Maybe Its Too Late,” “No One Will Ever Be Forgotten” and “There Never Was A Reason” flow together effortlessly, contributing to the album's undercurrent of bittersweet melancholy. Passionate and expressive, Terminal Valentine soars and swoons with raw emotional power and knowing optimism.
Personnel: Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello; Jason Roebke: bass; Frank Rosaly: drums.
Style: Modern Jazz/Free Improvisation | Published: May 02, 2007
Thom Jurek for All Music Guide
Released: May, 08, 2007
Record Label: Atavistic
Album Review The sheer musicality of Fred Longberg-Holm's cello playing cannot be denied. No matter how many free music projects he involves himself in, he cannot help but return to the notion of song as a player. On Terminal Valentine, Longberg-Holm teams with bassist Jason Roebke and drummer Frank Rosaly, and performs a series of short to middle-length pieces that have song at their root, though they explore the margins of certain frameworks of harmony, lyric and time. "Three Note Song" sounds, in the beginning, as if it could have been part of the tribute to the late Fred Katz he put together in 2002. On "And You Smile," the feeling of the love song comes through not only in the head where the melody asserts itself, but also in the dancing snares of Rosaly and the interpolating bass of Roebke. "Shift of the Eye" begins with a bassline that is quickly extended into another mode by cellos and cymbals, rim shots and floor toms are whispered through the middle and bottom to create the feeling of narrative, though it is not quite sure one exists, and one will be hard-pressed to hear one at all in "Maybe It's Too Late," where dissonance becomes its mirror image. The free improvisation is rooted in blues and finds itself wishing for something to anchor itself to, but finds nothing there except a wonderfully circular rhythm. Any way you slice Terminal Valentine, it's a challenging recording; it is easy to listen to, indeed, even to be seduced by and lulled into submission, because of its gorgeous sound, but going under would mean missing half the fun in deciphering the co des. Recommended.
Matthew Lurie for TimeOut Chicago
Fred Lonberg-Holm has a niche not likely to be overtaken anytime soon. He is a cellist; he can play both extreme-energy jazz as well as listless indie rock (dig his distortion pedals); and he can write John Cage–inspired pieces of chance as easily as childlike lullabies.
Prior to moving to Chicago in 1995, the Delaware native briefly studied with famed minimalist composer Morton Feldman in New York, and he’s arguably as much a product of that city’s thriving ’80s downtown jazz scene as this city’s Vandermark/Russell–led renaissance. Since then he’s become indispensable to ensembles like the Vandermark 5 and Keefe Jackson’s Fast Citizens, as well as spearheading ambitious groups of his own, including the Lightbox Orchestra and Boxhead Ensemble.
While Lonberg-Holm’s trio (alternately called the Valentine Trio) is the most threadbare of his projects, it also affords his fans an unadorned glimpse into his craft. Jason Roebke’s responsive bass lines and Frank Rosaly’s restless drumming evoke a sloppy charm that’s smart, but not concerned as much with precision as passion. The opening “Three Note Song” uses those notes in shifting orders and creates a gnawing, unmoored swing. Although it’s in the tradition of Duke Ellington’s “C Jam Blues,” or, better yet, early Ramones, its spirit of finding grist for an ecstatic jazz workout in such a deceptively simple idea is quintessentially Lonberg-Holm. A foggy mix and poor drum recording do a disservice to the album (huh? -FLH), but it’s not terminal: The voice of this multifaceted artist shines through.— Matthew Lurie