2007 East Coast tour:
June: 23 Ann Arbor - Kerrytown Concert House
26 Buffalo - Whitewalls
27 Brooklyn - Barbes
28 Baltimore - An Die Musik
29 Philadelphia - Ars Nova
30 Columbus - Ice Factory?
July 1 Lexington - Mecca?
The Valentine Trio was begun 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, Roebke stayed on. 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 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:
Cellist 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.
The cellist has created simple yet elegant melodies, which the trio wastes little time tearing to pieces. Yet even while the improvisations seem to dispense entirely with the chord patterns and rhythmic feel, some element of the original structure—a bass line, groove, or melodic shadow—remains, giving the listener something surprisingly accessible to grab on to. In particular, Lonberg-Holm delivers a gorgeous mix of lyric extrapolation and coloristic depth, unleashing elaborate constellations of bowed notes thick with the feel of string on string.
The Valentine Trio celebrates the release of Terminal Valentine with a gig on Thursday, May 10, at the Velvet Lounge. The same three musicians will play in strict free improv mode a night earlier, performing with the Italian reedist Gianni Gebbia at the Hideout.
Tom Sekowski for Gaz-eta:
Cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm is apparently the only person to admit openly he's studied with both Morton Feldman and Anthony Braxton. In an interview he gave a few years back, he confesses: "I learned everything from Feldman. That's my biggest problem in life is that I learned so much from Morton Feldman everything else is a come down since then. I have to somehow smile and put up with a bunch of idiots who don't know... It's a horrible thing". Since Tom Cora's passing in the late 90's, he's been the closest contender to the improvised cello throne. This being his third album for Atavistic [Album's title is a play on words. His other two releases featured valentine in the title as well.], shows a steady feeling of progression and comfort of sorts. At this point, you know Holm feels a sense of security in his playing. He realizes he's a great player with an abundance of ideas, so he just lets these fly freely. All compositions are credited to the trio. Same goes for the arrangements. If it sounds that his playing is more gorgeous than it's been in the past, that's because it really is. The stringy lines hover along, while his rhythm section [bassist Jason Roebke and percussionist Frank Rosaly] gives off a good counter-point to play against. Some pieces are more rousing than others, but the flavour of the music is neither romantic nor extravagantly improvisational. There's a certain structure that the group follows in building the pieces. Like blocks in a puzzle, all parts fit nicely together but only under certain conditions. The rhythm section is allowed to stretch out - as they do on "Maybe it's Too Late", with a few sections of what sounds like pensive music. The band knows where it's heading, but it takes it's sweet time in doodling around for a while. Richly rewarding record with music that is tender, jugular and though-provoking.
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.
Terminal Valentine is Lonberg-Holm's third album in a series originally inspired by the work of cellist Fred Katz, best known as a member of Chico Hamilton's visionary 1950s chamber jazz quintet. A Valentine for Fred KatzOther Valentines (Atavistic, 2005) preceded this date, with each succeeding album making subtle, creative inroads along the way.
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.
Track listing: Three Note Song; Maybe Its Too Late; And You Smile; No One Will Ever Be Forgotten; Just Don't Listen (To The Birds); There Never Was A Reason; Shift Of the Eye; There's No Way; I Know You; One For The Road.
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
Record Label: Atavistic
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