Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saxophonist Joel Frahm plays with Israeli jazz artists

The stage backdrop of the Leo Model Hall in the Gerard Behar Performance Centre, Jerusalem, shows a black jazz band. The hall was a fitting venue an evening of jazz that took place there December 3rd, 2012. Guest artist American saxophonist Joel Frahm was joined by Israeli artists – saxophonist Amit Friedman, pianist Hod Moshonov, bass-player Gilad Abro and Shay Zelman on percussion.

Born in Racine Wisconsin in 1969, Joel Frahm attended the Mason Gross School for the Arts, earning B.A. in jazz performance from the Manhattan School of Music. Over the last 20 years, Frahm has been performing and recording with many legendary jazz masters and was selected in DownBeat Magazine’s Critics Poll as a Rising Star in the category of tenor saxophone.

The evening was a tribute to American jazz tenor saxophonist, composer and bandleader “Sonny” Rollins. Born in 1930 in New York, Theodore Walter Rollins composed a number of compositions – among them “St. Thomas”, “Oleo”, “Doxy” and “Airegin” - that have become jazz standards.

Among the music played at the event was much based on Sonny Rollins’ pieces -  “A Blues Fantasy”, “Pent-Up House”, “Softly as in a Morning Sunrise”, “There Is no Greater Love” – and Amit Friedman’s own “Optimism” which he has dedicated to Rollins. The evening brought together musicians of the highest order, taking each item of musical raw material and fashioning it into a full-blown work in a collaboration of artistry using listening, invention and mutual respect as its basis. There was much conversation and communication between the two saxophonists, each, throughout the evening, however, playing with his own unique form of musical expression. Friedman is a sophisticated artist; he spins intricate textures using his palette of colors that boasts many influences – that of traditional jazz, rock, world music and Middle Eastern music. “Optimism” combines energy with dissonance, here, coupled with some whimsical moments. Frahm’s repertoire seems boundless: each melody promotes an avalanche of ideas and emotions, taking the audience via mellifluous sounds, a variety of timbres and rhythm games into his creative world. In “There is No Greater Love”, Frahm and his co-players create a mood of tranquility, weaving velvety, caressing lines into unabashed sentimentality.

Percussionist Shay Zelman’s playing was sensitive and tasteful, his solos dynamic and inspired. Hod Moshonov is an interesting artist; he uses his piano as a vehicle for creating interesting otherworldly, fragile timbres.  South African-born bassist Gilad Abro juxtaposes fine technical control with unleashed freedom of expression, originality and huge physical energy.

The players, totally immersed in the music yet communicative with the listener, provided the audience with artistic performance that at no point overstepped the boundaries of good taste.


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