Adrean Farrugia / Joel Frahm ‘Blued Dharma’ CD/DIG (GB) 5/5

Juno Award winning pianist, Adrean Farrugia, has been an active member of the Canadian jazz music scene since the late 1990s. He has appeared on more than 40 recordings and performs locally with the Bob Brough Quartet and Ernesto Cervini’s Turboprop among others. He also tours internationally with vocalist Matt Dusk, American trumpeter Brad Goode, and recently, Adrean also leads his own bands Ricochet (whose debut album was nominated for a Juno Award for Best Contemporary Jazz recording in 2011) and the Adrean Farrugia Trio. Adrean is on the faculties of Mohawk College and York University.
A regular on the New York City club circuit, Joel Frahm has appeared alongside musicians such as Brad Mehldau, Bill Charlap and Matt Wilson and has recorded with Diane Schuur, Kurt Elling, Jane Monheit and other top jazz artists. Fans know him for his big tenor sound — fluid, inventive and filled with passion. Downbeat Magazine’s critics’ poll has named him a rising star.

Adrean and Joel have been playing together for around ten years and this is their first album together.
When I first heard this album I thought… “TV/film music”. I remembered the sound track of the film “The Firm” scored and played by the great Dave Grusin. It was solo blues/jazz piano, the whole film – it was brilliant!
I think this combination of tenor or soprano sax and piano in the various styles of jazz, blues and pop rock gives this a really wide appeal and some definite commercial potential.
You might think that an album of original material and a couple of jazz standards would be difficult with no bass and drums – but – this works… It works superbly well.
The interplay between the two players is unimaginable until you hear it, and then you realise what can be achieved with two great players with an almost transcendental connection between them so they produce a sound that I would say only a few people could achieve. You can hear sounds and shades from so many musical styles in each track it is bewildering how just two players could create this. Some of the recordings have a real live ‘one take’ feel about them. You get brilliant improvisation from both which sometimes takes your breath away and other times fills you with pure joy – the joy they must have felt during the recording.

The stand out tracks for me have got to be ‘Blued Dharma’, lovely melody from the soprano sax doubled up on the piano, really well composed track. ‘For Murray Gold’ beautiful ballad dedicated to the BritishTV/film composer Murray Gold, shades of Joni Mitchell I can hear. ‘Half Moon (for Sophia)’ I really like the Soprano Sax, this one is full of melody and rhythm, energy and vitality.
I have been listening to this album over and over trying to find something I don’t like, something to criticise – but I can’t find anything I don’t love. The writing is brilliant, the individual performances are outstanding but most of all, the interplay between the two of them, the commitment and dedication is what makes this a work of genius!

David Izen