Joel Frahm Monster Tenor Sax Lick of the Day!

Here is a killer Joel Frahm lick that I picked up off of a Facebook video below. Joel is trying out a TT tenor saxophone mouthpiece that he sounds terrific on (he hasn’t even taken off his winter hat or coat which cracks me up… he just walked in off the street).  At the :08 mark he plays a fast lick that I immediately transcribed in my mind (Just joking, but I did run up to my office and take about 1/2 an hour to transcribe it immediately after hearing it……..).


Joel Frahm 

If you don’t know of Joel Frahm, here is a short bio 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 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.”

If you like Joel Frahm’s playing, make sure you check out Joel’s recordings!  I have most of them and they are terrific!  Thanks to Joel Frahm for being a continual inspiration to the saxophone world!

Joel Frahm Monster Lick of the Day-Bb PDF
Joel Frahm Monster Lick of the Day-Concert PDF

*If you would like to support me here at, you can do so on the support page of my store by debit or credit card.   Any support is appreciated and will go towards keeping this site running, saxophone reeds, mouthpiece patches, coffee, and towards justifying the many hours I spend on providing free transcriptions to the saxophone community!  Thanks,   Steve

Isolated Joel Frahm Monster Lick of the Day mp3

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Joel Frahm Trying a TT Tenor Mouthpiece (Lick starts at :08-:15)

If you like these type of outside modern sounding lines like I do, be sure to check out my Devastating Lines for Jazz and Funk Soloing for Minor and Dominant Grooves. These two books are filled with great modern 16th note lines in all 12 keys that you can learn and use while soloing. Check out all the 5 star reviews! Steve

DevastatingFrontCoverAdDevastating Minor Lines for Jazz and Funk Soloing

DevastatingDominantAdDevastating Dominant Lines for Jazz & Funk

Steve About Steve

Steve Neff has been playing and teaching saxophone and jazz improvisation around the New England area for the last 30 years. He is the author of many effective jazz improvisation methods as well as founding the popular jazz video lesson site


  1. Thank you, Steve!…

  2. This is a gem thanks Steve!!

  3. Avatar Lawrence Fairbairn says

    Take that,
    From a cat in a hat.

  4. Avatar Kevin Ledbetter says

    Steve, how does a guy pull that off the top of his head? what goes into having
    those kind of lines under your fingers?

  5. WOW!

  6. Avatar WILLIAM Zhu says

    Hey, Steve, this isn’t related to the Joel Frahm’s lick, but I was struggling in intonation recently. How do you keep in tune at different volumes? I find that I go flat when playing at louder volumes. Is this normal? Is there a way to prevent this, or is it an active thing you must counter?

    • William, I think the key is just being aware of it. I also usually tune and play at an 80% volume level as I talk about in my lessons. Because I tune at that louder volume I am more in tune when playing loud I think. I would try that and see if it helps. If it does, then you might notice you go sharp when playing soft but fixing a sharp note is a lot easier than fixing a flat note.

      I don’t recall having any issues with this for many years so I think if I did have an issue with it that I learned to compensate and fix it and now it is just second nature. There can be a lot going on that might cause this so it is good to get with a teacher one on one to figure out what is going on. Some things to think about and be aware of are 1. Are you changing your embouchure at all? Are you getting looser as you get louder? 2.Is your tongue arched in an EEE position? I find that this helps with intonation with many of my students. Students that keep their tongue at the bottom of their mouth seem to go flatter when playing louder for some reason in my experience.

      I would also practice long tones with a tuner at different volume levels and try to figure out how to fight the change in intonation (without biting with your embouchure) Hope this helps, Steve

  7. Absolutely fantastic. I was just listening to a Joel Frahm’s recording released TODAY on YouTube, Too Marvelous For Words. And I thought, I’ve got to find more Joel Frahm! Which led me to your site. Thanks for the transcription. Keep up the good work! I’m going to spend the rest of today on your site. This is incredible!

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