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Conversations with creators and organizers of the arts scene in West Michigan, hosted by Cara Lieurance

Joel Frahm’s jazz saxophone makes him welcome anywhere

Joel Frahm, holding a saxophone
Courtesy photo
Saxophonist Joel Frahm

Saxophonist/composer Joel Frahm appeared with Western Michigan University faculty players guitarist Matt Landon, bassist Carlo de Rosa and drummer Keith Hall on the Jazz in the Crawlspace Series on Dec 15. He was the special guest artist on the series, which is supported by the John Stites Jazz Awards and held in the KNAC Center’s Crawlspace Theater.

South America, Europe, Japan and Canada are regular stops on Frahm’s itinerary as a jazz artist. Now based in Nashville, TN, he says was drawn to the music scene and social comraderie in New York City, where he stayed for 3 decades. That’s where he met Matthew Fries, now WMU’s professor of jazz piano.

In a conversation with Cara Lieurance and Fries, Joel Frahm tells the story behind his 2021 album with bassist Dan Loomis and drummer Ernesto Cervini, which leaves out keyboard or guitar harmonies in the mix. He introduces four tracks from The Bright Side and shares some of his wide-ranging experiences that jazz fluency has allowed him, from sitting in with Brazilian dance musicians, to intensely listening crowds in Japan, to finding himself adding saxophone to a country album in Nashville.

Cara Lieurance is the local host of NPR's All Things Considered on 1021 WMUK and covers local arts & culture on Let's Hear It on 89.9 Classical WMUK weekday mornings at 10 - 11 am.
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