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Joel Frahm Quartet: Live at Smalls

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One of Joel Frahm’s major strengths is his ability to adapt his saxophone playing to a number of seemingly incongruous settings with grace and ease. And while the tenor saxophonist’s chameleonic tendencies on this live set are largely kept in check, there’s enough shifting in tone and approach to make one wonder whether all of the saxophone parts are by the same guy.

They are, of course, and despite the stylistic zigzagging, there’s a consistency to the level of performance quality throughout the program, which teams Frahm with the ever more impressive Kurt Rosenwinkel on guitar, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Otis Brown III (a blatant error on the back of the CD sleeve lists Brown as pianist). The quartet navigates the multiple moods like the pros they are, transforming the music’s potentially off-putting eclecticism into a positive where others would have let it weigh the set down.

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