Blued Dharma, a duet outing by pianist Adrean Farrugia and tenor and soprano saxophonist Joel Frahm, opens with the title tune, a simpatico, lighter-than-air composition. The instrumentalists banter and extemporize, bat ideas back and forth and explore melodic main roads and sideroads. So it is for the full album of inspired interplay.
Having played together for nearly a decade in Toronto-based drummer Ernesto Cervini's various bands, the duo has formed a symbiotic camaraderie, a smooth as velvet give and take of ideas, by turns spirited and introspective. Both possess prodigious techniques, both possess expansive souls, and they offer up a batch of Farrugia originals and two takes of the familiar "Cherokee." Both versions of the standard are flexible examinations of the tune, one fluid, the other prickly, both beautiful.
The set as a whole has parallels to other sax/piano duets: The 1997 Ornette Coleman/Joachim Kuhn release, Colors (Harmolodic), and saxophonist Juhani Aaltonen's pairing with his Finnish compatriot, pianist Iro Haarla on Kirkastus (TUM Records, 2015), with music that exudes a pianistic elegance and refinement combined with the earthiness and soul of the saxophone sound, unconstrained by bass and drums.
Blued Dharma proves itself an engaging dance of gorgeous interconnectedness between two virtuosic musicians.
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.