Two special projects and a showcase

Submitted by Josh Grossman on Tue Apr 24 4:14pm

The next two weeks are going to be busy, both on stage and off - while I work furiously to round out the Festival's programming and we prepare for our major media announcement, we've got a part in three upcoming shows: Special Projects this Friday (Adrean Farrugia and Joel Frahm release BLUED DHARMA) and Saturday (The Smith Sessions Presents: Bitches Brew); then the Israeli Jazz Showcase on May 6. So - lots to talk about...but today I'll focus on Friday's BLUED DHARMA release.

Adrean Farrugia has, over the past 20 years, established himself as an integral part of the Toronto jazz community. He's regularly adding his personal touch to a variety of ensembles, both as a side musician and a leader; a JUNO Award winner, he's performed on more than 40 albums and has toured internationally with musicians like Matt Dusk, Brad Goode and Ernie Watts.

Adrean first met saxophonist Joel Frahm in 2009 when they played together in the Ernesto Cervini Quartet - and the musical connection was immediate. Frahm, once named a "Rising Star" by the Downbeat Critic's Poll, is a regular on the New York jazz scene who has performed and recorded with artists like Brad Mehldau, Bill Charlap, Matt Wilson, Diane Schuur, Kurt Elling and Jane Monheit. He plays with a huge sound, and consistently creative solos.

After discussing the idea of a duets album for several years, they finally made it happen in 2017, when Adrean made the trip to New York - they spent an afternoon together rehearsing the music, then recorded at Tedesco Studios in New Jersey. The result is fairly magical - whether performing Farrugia originals or "deconstructing" jazz standards like "Cherokee", Frahm (on tenor and soprano) and Farrugia find the balance between space and density, improvised solos and composed passages, activity and rest. Recording of any kind is nerve-wracking; but with only two instruments, there really is nowhere to hide - it's a pleasure to hear how Adrean and Joel navigate the musical landscape on their own. With no drums or bass to lean on, they must - and do - maintain the musical interest from beginning to end of each tune.

Adrean describes the album's repertoire as "very human music — playful, highly interactive, with an honest expression of a wide gamut of human emotions." Having chatted with Adrean in a variety of contexts, it makes sense to me that he would use these terms - his passion for what he does, and his drive towards positivity, comes across consistently, I feel, in his person and his playing, and can clearly be heard in this music. To experience the music live in the intimate setting - and excellent acoustic - of Gallery 345 will be a treat.

Adrean Farrugia and Joel Frahm release BLUED DHARMA this Friday, April 27, 7 pm (not 8 pm as previously reported) at Gallery 345 (345 Sorauren Avenue). Tickets are available at the door, and complete information is available on our website.

I hope to see you there!

Josh