Last week I was in the Czech Republic teaching at the Prague International Summer Jazz Workshop. It was an amazing experience all the way around- teachers staff, students, the city; everything was fantastic. The two other saxophone teachers just happened to be two of my favorite saxophonists on the planet. The first, Joel Frahm, is a rising tenor star on the NYC scene. The first thing that attracted me about Joel's playing was his sound, which to me is the ideal tenor sound. The recordings that I'd heard of Joel before the workshop sounded very good, though a little tame. I wasn't prepared for the monstrous saxophonist that I head in person. Joel really has it all; huge warm sound, ridiculous technique, hard swinging feel, total awareness of tradition, melodic sense, expressive ability, and modern post-bop facility. He's also warm, generous and entertaining guy. Hanging with Joel, and the other teachers, for a week had quite an effect on my teaching style and on my musical concept in general.
The other saxophonist was a Hungarian alto saxophonist from Budapest named Kristof Basco. I had run across Kristof's MySpace page about a year or two ago. After listening to the pages of literally hundreds saxophonists from all over the world I found Kristof to be one of the most interesting alto players I had ever heard, easily my favorite cat in all of Europe. Kristof studied at Berklee about 10 years after I did, spent some time in NYC and then moved back home to Budapest. He thinks like a composer when constructing his solos, building them thoughtfully and slowly. He's one of the few players to really have a complete awareness of motivic development. His tone is dark and rich, one of the few guys with what I consider to be a real alto sound.
I plan on doing interviews in the future for this blog with both of these saxophonists, so keep checking back.
Joel gave a very inspiring master class during the workshop called Telling a Story. I think it was definitely one of the most interesting master classes I have ever attended. Angus Grundy, one of the students in my combo class, recorded it and then made detailed notes on time markings and topics.
Telling a Story- Joel Frahm's Master Class
Notes to Joel Frahm's Master Class
Joel Frahm's home page
Czech Jazz Society
Paval Wlosok photography.