Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joel Frahm Quartet: Live at Smalls

My review of a new album by tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm was just published in The New York City Jazz Record.  Check out the PDF version of the paper at if you're interested.  The last time I saw Mr. Frahm, two summers ago at the Bar Next Door in the West Village, I was studying jazz criticism with Ben Ratliff.  Quite a lot has happened since then.  I am now living in New York--Long Island City, to be exact--and will start a job in digital journalism in the new year.

Mr. Frahm's new album was recorded live at Smalls, one of my favorite jazz clubs in New York City.  I've only been there once--two summers ago, to see the stride pianist Mike Lipskin--but I remember it fondly.  I hope to visit the club many more times in my new tenure as a New Yorker.

Here's the first paragraph of my review:

The black and white snapshots arrayed on the inside flap of "Live at Smalls," tenor saxist Joel Frahm’s latest recording, show the members of his quartet in the middle of a thought, with their eyes closed: guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel is reaching high up for a note on the neck of his hollow body; bassist Joe Martin hugs his instrument in closely, wearing a look of seeming elation; drummer Otis Brown III (unfortunately listed as a pianist) swings coolly on his ride cymbal. Then there’s Frahm, hunching his shoulders in tightly, brow furrowed, drawing the audience in with his focus. You wish you could have seen the show in color, especially at Smalls, that unpretentious basement hangout in the West Village. But this live recording is intimate enough.  

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