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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm and Bruce Katz: Project A

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Tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm has teamed up with pianist/organist Bruce Katz for Project A, a tribute to Aretha Franklin and containing material with which she is associated. Although Frahm's foundation is jazz, there is a soul-filled side of him that enjoys working with the likes of Katz, renowned for his work with the Allman Brothers Band. The pair are joined by Chris Vitarello (guitar), Marty Ballou (acoustic bass), Jerry Jemmott (electric bass), Lorne Entress and Ralph Rosen (drums), with baritone saxophonist Jay Collins and trumpeter Kenny Rampton. The personnel changes from track-to-track but there are some where both drummers and ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Joel Frahm & Bruce Katz at The Jazz Standard, NYC

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Joel Frahm and Bruce KatzJazz Standard New York, New York September 1, 2009

In celebration of the release of Project A (Anzic Records), co-bandleaders Joel Frahm (tenor saxophone) and Bruce Katz (piano, B3 and Wurlitzer) took the stage at the famed Manhattan jazz club to showcase what they described as “a jazz re-reading" of the music of Aretha Franklin.

The band started as a quintet with the two leaders backed by Chris Vitarello (electric guitar), Jerry Jemmott (electric bass) and Lorne Entress (drums), kicking off with the CD's opening number, “The House That Jack ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm / Bruce Katz: Project A

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Joel Frahm and Bruce Katz's Project A is not a codename for a scientific research program or some covert operation, but, instead, a finger-snapping, toe-tapping tribute to the original Queen of Soul, singer Aretha Franklin. Frahm, a superlative saxophonist who has worked with Maynard Ferguson, Brad Mehldau and Kurt Rosenwinkel, is joined by Bruce Katz, a master Hammond B3 player and pianist, who is well known in R&B, blues and rock circles, having performed with Gregg Allman and Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters. Joined with two drummers and two bassists who are divided between ...

BAILEY'S BUNDLES

Irene Atman and Daniela Schachter meet at the Intersection of Joel Frahm

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Nowhere in jazz is the soil so rich as it is in the area of female vocals. Major label, independents, melting pots and old school, there are vocal releases appealing to any persnickety taste. Such a diverse marketplace is to the fortune of the listening public. This fortune is magnified when two dramatically different singers share a common denominator: in the cases of Irene Atman and Daniela Schachter that common denominator is New York tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm on the two recordings New York Rendezvous and Purple Butterfly. Frahm provides the common thread between these two otherwise very different singers ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm: We Used To Dance

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Joel Frahm is a big, gentle looking man with a big, warm sound on the tenor saxophone. On We Used To Dance, he reunites with pianist Kenny Barron, with whom Frahm studied at the Rutgers University jazz program. Frahm has also enlisted the services of the rest of the rhythm section that contributed so much to the later recordings of Stan Getz: bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis. The result is a solid disc of outstanding music.

Frahm can play, and shows it on all ten tracks, including two well-known standards ("Spring Can Really Hang ...

PODCAST

Joel Frahm: The Focused Chameleon

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Jason Crane interviews saxophonist Joel Frahm. Frahm is one of the busiest saxophonists on the scene today. You'll find him on recordings with pianist Brad Mehldau, vocalist Jane Monheit, trumpeter Avishai Cohen, drummers Matt Wilson and Pete Zimmer, and the Waverly 7. His fourth record as a leader, We Used To Dance (Anzic Records, 2007), brings together a classic rhythm section that played with Stan Getz on some of his final recordings: pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis. Frahm wrote many of the tunes on the record and also paid homage to those ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm: We Used to Dance

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Working with pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Rufus Reid and drummer Victor Lewis on a straight-ahead jazz session would be a real treat for anyone. It turns out to be especially fruitful for tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm, who delivers this program of standards and originals with an artist's delicate touch. The proud owner of a rich, luxurious tone, the saxophonist interprets ballads, blues and up-tempo romps with clarity while swinging in a rhythmic groove when the situation permits. He and this stellar trio are equally at ease with tender ballads such as “Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most, “My ...

INTERVIEWS

Joel Frahm's Musical Reunion

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Joel Frahm's Don't Explain is just one of many reunions between the saxophonist and his high school classmate, pianist Brad Mehldau.

The recording was a natural next step after the two reunited for two concerts to raise money for the nationally-known music program at their alma mater, William H. Hall High School, in West Hartford, Conn.

“I asked Brad if he would be interested in doing a charity concert," said Frahm in a recent interview, “and he said, 'Yeah'. The first one seemed really successful and then we did another one. It just seemed really natural to play with him ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm with Brad Mehldau: Don

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Jazz in small spaces is always provocative: the smaller the band, the greater in intimacy. That is not to say that the solo performance is the most intimate setting for jazz, though. The solo performance is by its very nature dense and narcissistic. While certainly emotional, solitude is not about interaction between musicians, only action and reaction of musician and instrument. This circumstance is very well illustrated in pianist Bill Evans' two solo recordings for Milestone, Solo Sessions, Volume 1 and 2.

The jazz duo, on the other hand, is the very definition of intimate. Piano/saxophone combinations are ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm: Don't Explain

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Together, Joel Frahm and Brad Mehldau interpret six jazz standards, one familiar Ornette Coleman fixture, one memorable pop classic, and one original composition. Each piece is delivered with a straightforward approach, keeping the central melody in focus while venturing just a bit off the beaten path to express personal feelings about the subject. Frahm moves fluidly through his instruments' ranges, flipping keys as fast as necessary in order to have his say. Mehldau provides a warm backdrop for the saxophonist and contributes delicate essentials. His clarion calls and glistening harmonic tools provide a sparkle.

Jazz needs its tradition, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm with Brad Mehldau: Don't Explain

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Saxophonist Joel Frahm's third outing on Palmetto is a showcase for duets with pianist Brad Mehldau. Frahm impressed with his 1999 debut Sorry No Decaf as a neo bopper and I missed his 2000 venture on The Navigator. The studio can get pretty lonely with only two artists performing and we're happy to report that this is a relaxed and stimulating session for these two old friends from West Hartford, Connecticut.

Frahm has chosen standards and jazz standards with a minimal number of original compositions so that the listener can easily gauge his performance with the many ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm: The Navigator

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Joel Frahm’s second Palmetto release again features the fabulous pianist David Berkman, who contributed four of the album’s 10 tracks. Scott Colley and Billy Drummond lay down the rhythm on this terrific set, which also includes four of Frahm’s originals, a no-frills “My One and Only Love," and a soul-style tune by Matt Wilson titled “Hymn for Don Cherry."Frahm’s tenor sound is big, his improvisations aggressive and content-rich. Berkman outranks him as a composer, however. Only a superior writer could come up with the tension-filled unison lines of “Ants" and “Gradually, I Inserted Myself Into the Conversation," and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm: The Navigator

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Joel Frahm’s second disc as leader has all the trappings of a John Coltrane legacy recording. Sure that’s a heavy burden, but one he proves worthy. Like his 1999 disc Sorry, No Decaf, Frahm mines hard-bop with a self-admission (like Coltrane) that he is not comfortable on up-tempo tunes. Fine, grace not speed signifies great art. Take his version of “My One And Only Love,” the mind jumps directly to Johnny Hartman March 7, 1963 singing the same song alongside Coltrane in Rudy Van Gelder’s studio. Just as Hartman/Coltrane lay down the romance, Frahm spins it into gold, with mature ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Joel Frahm: Sorry, No Decaf

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On Sorry, No Decaf Saxophonist Joel Frahm displays an admirable compositional pen, and a commanding presence on tenor and soprano sax. Frahm enlists longtime associate and fine bandleader in his own right, drummer Matt Wilson along with pianist David Berkman and bassist Doug Weiss.

The opener, Frahm’s “Smokey Joel” features a catchy, memorable melody line as Frahm’s tenor sax work proceeds to burn the house down through fluid, clear toned and articulate phrasing. Here, Frahm is a fleet fingered and fierce jazz machine while pianist David Berkman reinvents the melody, displaying an encyclopedic knowledge of jazz-piano improv through brief yet ...



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