Joel Frahm

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About Joel Frahm

b. 1970, Racine, Wisconsin, USA. As a child Frahm studied piano and also played bassoon but while in eighth grade at the Stephen Bull Fine Arts School where he had tuition from music teacher Gary Mollenkopf, he began playing tenor saxophone. In 1985 he moved with his family to West Hartford, Connecticut, where, as a student at William H. Hall High School, he came under the wing of Bill Stanley, founder of the school jazz band. It was here that Frahm also encountered fellow students with an interest in jazz. One was a drummer named Bill Dobrow, the other was pianist Brad Mehldau. Frahm and Mehldau formed what was to become a long-lasting and productive musical relationship. They teamed up for a weekly engagement at a local club, a portent of much to come. While playing in the high school jazz band, Frahm also augmented his musical knowledge by listening to records by artists such as Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver and Miles Davis, paying particular attention to saxophonists Wayne Shorter, Bob Berg and Charlie Parker. After leaving high school in 1988, Frahm attended Rutgers University for a year before transferring to The Manhattan School of Music, and following graduation with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Performance he entered Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead workshop. Thereafter, he played with Maynard Ferguson and Larry Goldings and was also a member of Mehldau’s early 90s quartet with bass player Dwayne Burno and drummer Greg Hutchinson. In 1996, Frahm, who also plays soprano saxophone, reached the semi-final of the Thelonious Monk competition. After a 1998 duo fundraiser concert with Mehldau, on behalf of their old high school, the pair recorded in this format including 2004’s Don’t Explain. In the early 00s, Frahm toured and recorded with Jane Monheit, appearing on Taking A Chance On Love. In October 2004, Frahm was back again at his high school, this time with his quartet, for another benefit concert, this time on behalf of Gifts of Music, a non-profit community group that collaborates with Hartt School of Music to provide local students with music lessons. A session with Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid and Victor Lewis, the members of Stan Getz’s magnificent quartet, produced We Used To Dance in 2007. Not only does Frahm have full command of the instruments he plays, he is inventive and adventurous in his playing. The verve and enthusiasm he has for his music is thoroughly communicated to fellow musicians and audiences alike.

Racine, WI, United States
October 31, 1970
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