It was another sell-out gig at Jazz Leeds on 28 April – the Joel Frahm Trio had booked just two UK venues in their European tour and this was one of them. The other was Soho’s Pizza Express, the night before. Frahm, known for his boisterous spirit and fluent creativity on tenor sax was turbocharged tonight. With fellow American Dan Loomis dynamic on bass and Canadian Ernesto Cervini towering on drums, the trio delivered a blistering performance.
All numbers bar one were originals from their album The Bright Side. They opened with Beeline, written by Frahm on the chord changes of Arlen’s My Shining Hour. Thinking Of Benny followed in honour of Benny Golson, whom Frahm considered to have been underrated. This swinging number featured impassioned soloing from Loomis and Frahm, duetting with Cervini’s polyrhythmic drumming. Loomis contributed two compositions to the set – his evocative ballad, Silk Road and the upbeat X Friends, an imaginative reworking of the Klenner/Lewis standard Just Friends.
Frahm informed the audience that his Blow Poppa Joe, a fleet-footed contrafact of Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge, hadn’t been done by anyone before. He went on to tell us that when he was 17 he met Dave Brubeck and asked him for advice on becoming a jazz musician. Brubeck’s dry response was “Don’t do it!” Frahm’s ensuing interpretation of In Your Own Sweet Way was his tribute to Brubeck.
Frahm told us that he first heard Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side after he’d been to a funeral and the song had stuck in his mind ever since. As a result it inspired the next number and the album’s toe-tapping title track, The Bright Side. The exuberant Omer’s World, Frahm’s tribute to Israeli-American jazz bassist Omer Atival, followed with riveting drum soloing. The band closed with Cervini’s reflective composition, The Beautiful Mystery.
This outstanding set was enthusiastically applauded by the appreciative Leeds audience. The next day the trio, who only last week had played in Paris, Passau and Graz, were going on to perform in Gothenburg, Oslo and Tbilisi.
For those who might not have been before, Jazz Leeds is based at Seven Arts, the independent arts space in Chapel Allerton named after the Leeds postcode LS7. It has an excellent café/bar and intimate theatre with tiered seating. Jazz Leeds is run on a not-for-profit basis by congenial promoter Steve Crocker and his team of friendly volunteers on Thursday nights and Sunday afternoons. He also runs regular jazz workshops and jazz jams and will be presenting a number of bands in the forthcoming Leeds Jazz Festival, 1-12 June. You can find all the details at www.jazzleeds.org.uk.
Joel Frahm Trio with Dan Loomis (b) and Ernesto Cervini (d) at Seven Arts for Jazz Leeds, 28 April 2022