I emailed Joel Frahm the other day and asked if I could post this great masterclass he did in Prague years ago. He said “No problem” which I was very excited about. I have been a great fan of his going back many years. I went through a stage where I was listening to a lot of Brad Mehldau and one day saw a Duo recording with Brad and Joel Frahm. I bought it and loved it. Since that day I have bought all of Joel’s recordings as a leader including Don’t Explain, Sorry No Decaf, The Navigator, We Used to Dance, and many more with him as a sideman……….
Joel Frahm Jazz Improvisation Clinic
Here is a short history about him from Joel’s website:
“Joel Frahm’s May 1st release, We Used to Dance, places him in the company of master musicians Kenny Barron (piano), Rufus Reid (bass), and Victor Lewis (drums). Frahm more than holds his own in showing both the chops and lyricism that has made him an irreplaceable part of so many sessions in his two decades on the jazz scene. Surrounded by jazz legends, Frahm makes this recording a true “coming out party” for his maturing artistry. It is his most ambitious CD to date, featuring six of his original compositions that come to life in beautiful and variegated ways in the hands of this remarkable band. “It was an honor and a watershed experience to make this record with these incredible musicians” he says. Having made a name for himself through his associations with singer Jane Monheit and boyhood friend, pianist Brad Mehldau, Frahm hones his own voice on this breakout recording. Joel has also worked with a vast array of musical peers and jazz legends including Maynard Ferguson, Betty Carter, Matt Wilson, Larry Goldings, Dewey Redman, Lee Konitz, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Andrew Hill, Ben Allison, Pat Martino, Ingrid Jensen, Dena Derose, The Village Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, Kyle Eastwood and many others. Born in Racine, WI in 1969, Frahm attended the Mason Gross School for the Arts and earned his B.A. in Jazz Performance at Manhattan School of Music. He released three highly regarded CDs on Palmetto: The Navigator, Don’t Explain (with Mehldau), and Sorry No Decaf. Don’t Explain, his latest, was the number one jazz release for radio play in the United States for two consecutive weeks in 2004, according to jazzweek.com airplay chart and also reached number one on college radio for one week, according to College Music Journal’s airplay chart. Joel was also recently selected in DownBeat Magazine’s Critics Poll as a Rising Star in the category of tenor saxophone.”
This masterclass is on playing melodically and creating a story with your soloing. Joel offers many great conceptual tips and demonstrates by playing a great solo on “My One and Only Love”. His tone is just gorgeous!! Dark, round and full. Listen for the melodic phrases he uses when he starts his solo. Try to hear how the phrases lead and connect to each other. Listen for the tensions and releases…………
After the solo, Joel starts out by talking about playing in 10th’s which is totally cool! (A 10th is a 3rd displaced by an octave). He also talks about thinking of a melody or idea to start out before he even starts playing.
I love his quote at the 26:00 minute mark where he says “You don’t need a ton of vocabulary to start improvising”. Listen to that section closely. Give yourself time in your practice session to just improvise. Forget the licks. I love at 27:38 where they just play freely based off of 3 notes.
Check out 46:18 and the conceptual idea to play more rhythmically. His playing as an example is so cool there. Just thinking a slightly different way can really alter and open up your playing in a major way. That is what jazz is all about
There is so much great advice and insight being communicated in this masterclass that it is worth listening to over and over…….……… Enjoy!!
PS. Make sure you buy Joel’s recordings! I have most of them and they are terrific!
Joel Frahm Jazz Improvisation Clinic