Long time collaborators and bandmates Adrean Farrugia and Joel Frahm explore the musical possibilities of jazz piano and saxophone on Blued Dharma with a playful and melodic take. The release offers an intriguing variety of expression and approaches.
In "Blued Dharma," the title track, the two instruments wind in and around each other in melodic abandon. Frahm is a gifted player who can wring an endless melodic variety out of any chord progression. The songs, all written by Farrugia with the exception of "Cherokee" by Roy Noble and "Nobody Else But Me" by Jerone Kern/Oscar Hammerstein, offer familiar jazz structure and improvisational sections.
"Cool Beans" is a highlight of the release, with a rhythmic piano riff that bounces off a languid sax melody, gradually ramping it up to a superbly tangled knot of bluesy melody and drive. In "For Murray Gold," Frahm offers a pure tone that matches the sombre mood of the piece. There are two versions of Noble's "Cherokee." The first, "Cherokee II," is a kinetic track with a relentless sense of momentum and an exuberant energy, while "Cherokee I" mines the melodic rather than rhythmic elements of the song.
Recognizing their musical compatibility after playing together in ensembles headed by Toronto drummer Ernesto Cervini for several years, Farrugia and Frahm got together to record the duo album in a single session at Tedesco Studio in New Jersey in August 2017. They bring a symbiotic energy to a combination of instruments that's not often heard from.
Blued Dharma; Cherokee II; For Murray Gold; Gospell; Nobody Else But Me; Cherokee I; Half Moon.
Adrean Farrugia: piano; Joel Frahm: tenor and soprano saxophones.