Wednesday, February 25, 2004

Joel Frahm and Brad Mehldau - Don't Explain (Palmetto,
2004)


Mellow, mellow, mellow. This compact disc should be
yellow. OK, sleep deprivation aside and no more
terrible puns. This is a quiet series of duets between
the tenor and soprano saxophonist Joel Frahm and
pianist Brad Mehldau. Frahm came to my attention by
appearing on one of my favorite CDs of the 1990's,
Matt Wilson's "Going Once, Going Twice" and Mehldau
has been around for quite a while now starting out
with Joshua Redman, before striking out on his own
with a series of trio CDs for Warner Brothers.

Some of the best music to relax to is a well performed
jazz duet. The collaboration between Houston Person
and Ron Carter collected on the 32 Jazz set entitled
The Complete Muse Sessions is a fine example of this.
Frahm and Mehldau keep the fireworks to a minimum on
this disc which is mostly an exploration of standards.


Two versions of Thelonious Monk's "Round Midnight"
anchor the disc, one keeps pretty much to the standard
melody of Monk's classic, while the other version is
more exploratory, shining a light into the dark
corners of this knotty composition. Other performances
of note include jaunty explorations of Sonny Rollins'
"Oleo" and the standard "Get Happy."

All in all it's a set of solid mellow music suitable
for a late night of reading or relaxing. I'm more
impressed with Mehldau as time goes by. On previous
recordings, I found his music cold and distant, but on
this disc, with the spotlight off of him and playing
with a close friend, the music is warmer and self
assured.

Rating: 7

Send comments to: Tim