Friesen was an autodidact on bass, having picked it up while serving in the U.S. Army in Germany. He played with John Handy and Marian McPartland and following this, with Joe Henderson; in 1975, he toured in Europe with Billy Harper. His first album as a session leader appeared that year. In 1976, he began collaborating with guitarist John Stowell; the pair would work together often. He appeared with Ted Curson at the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1977. Following this, he worked with Ricky Ford, Duke Jordan, Mal Waldron, and Paul Horn. His 1989 album Other Times, Other Places reached No. 11 on the U.S. Billboard Top Jazz Albums chart. He has also played with Chick Corea, Michael Brecker, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Kenny Garrett, Dizzy Gillespie, and Mal Waldron.
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