2003   APRIL 12   #102

Rev. Basil Frison - A Gondola In Venice

One weekend several years ago my mother attended a day retreat at Rancho Dominguez in Carson California. Shortly after she returned I heard a recording of a piano emanating from her room. She told me that an eighty-something year old priest she"d never met before had mentioned he"d recorded an album, and when she asked about it he hurried off and got a copy for her. She was quite amused by how badly she thought the music was played. I asked if I could hear it and she handed me a sixty minute TDK IEC I/TYPE I cassette. Once in my own room I put the tape into my stereo, pressed play, and soon heard a unique, now familiar, voice:

"Basil Frison, for over fifty years a priest, a seminarian at Dominguez from 1932 through 1936, now recording some piano music, on the Decker Brothers from New York upright piano, which is a Dominguez family heirloom, now preserved in the Dominguez Ranch Adobe."

The album contains eight selections ranging from Lecuona"s Malagueña to Rachmaninov's Prelude in C sharp Major to Joplin's Entertainer to two of Frison"s own compositions. Each is played on an ancient, out-of-tune piano, and preceded by Rev. Frison"s own idiosyncratically charming introductions. The tape ends with a sixteen minute long "medley' consisting of various "Mexican popular melodies' separated by the starting and stopping of the tape recorder sans individual introductions.

One of Rev. Frison"s originals, A Gondola in Venice, is presented here. The cassette is as far as I can tell untitled, designated only by Rev. Frison"s own Knights of Columbus address label. In leau, I call it Live at Rancho Dominguez.

I hope Rev. Frison is still alive. Maybe he"s recorded another album. Even more I"d like to get copies of his scores, not just for my personal enjoyment, but to help ensure his contribution to the musical canon is preserved.

- Andrew Lander

TT-3:50 / 3.5MB / 128kbps 44.1khz