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 You Up the Most" and "My Ideal"), two of Barron's fine compositions ("Joanne Julia" and "Song for Abdullah") and six Frahm originals.
"Bob's Blues" belies Frahms's contention in the liner notes that his originals are "another baby step in my continuing attempts to write music." This fine piece is far more than that, evoking an irresistible late night vibe. As he does throughout the disc, Barron quickly establishes that he is not simply sitting in to comp behind a former student; he solos beautifully, connecting with Frahm in a sustaining musical partnership.
On Frahm's aptly titled "Jobimiola," Lewis opens and the band jumps into a swinging Brazilian-inflected romp. Frahm is clearly enjoying himself as he quotes "You and the Night and the Music," then heads back towards more Tom Jobim-like riffs.
Lewis and Reid create a compelling context for Frahm's entrance to "Song for Abdullah." Throughout the recording, the bassist and drummer are consistently tasteful and musical, whether soloing or keeping time behind Frahm and Barron.
"Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most" highlights Frahm's gorgeous tone on the tenor. In his interplay with Barron he establishes clearly that this is far more than a recital by teacher and graduate. Frahm has learned his musical lessons well, and his ample talent establishes him as an equal participant in music making with these three outstanding players.