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Joel Frahm and Bruce Katz: Project A

Marcia Hillman By

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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 bassists are included. Jemmott's background (playing for artists including Franklin, BB King,Ray Charles and Freddie King) makes him a perfect addition to this project.

At a CD release engagement at New York City's Jazz Standard in August, 2009, the band delivered an energetic performance of mostly album material. "The House That Jack Built" is rollicking, featuring both Frahm and Katz with powerful solos. A fine example of the latter's distinctive playing is found on Stephen Stills' "Love the One You're With," his warm tone singing the lyric. Vitarello makes a notable impact on "It Ain't Fair" and "Rock Steady" but Katz is a force throughout, on either of his instruments. He can be bluesy, gritty and lyrical—at times all in the same song. One of the outstanding performances (both on the CD and live) is "What a Friend We Have in Jesus," the rhythm evocative of the drumbeat played at New Orleans funerals. It is a joyous celebration of Cajun and gospel emphasized by both drummers' contributions.

Track Listing: The House That Jack Built; Love The One You're With; Don't Play That Song; Spirit In The Dark; It Ain't Fair; Maybe I'm A Fool; What A Friend We Have In Jesus; Rock Steady; Packing Up, Getting Ready To Go.

Personnel: Joel Frahm: tenor saxophone; Bruce Katz: piano, B3 organ, Wurlitzer; Chris Vitarello: guitar; Marty Ballou: acoustic bass (2-6, 8, 9); Jerry Jemmott: bass (1, 3, 4, 7, 8); Lorne Entress: drums (1, 3-5, 7-9); Ralph Rosen: drums (2, 4, 6-9); Jay Collins: baritone saxophone (5, 7, 9); Kenny Rampton: trumpet (5, 7, 9).

Title: Project A | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Anzic Records

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