Born in 1970, the esteemed American jazz saxophonist Joel Frahm started his musical journey in Racine, Wisconsin. From an early age, his interest in music was evident. He attended the Stephen Bull Fine Arts School, where he began playing the tenor saxophone. The family’s move to West Hartford, Connecticut, when he was 15, marked a significant chapter in his life. There, Frahm attended William H. Hall High School and encountered pianist Brad Mehldau, a meeting that would lead to weekly local gigs and a long-standing musical collaboration.
Following high school, Frahm’s dedication to music took him to Rutgers University and later The Manhattan School of Music. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jazz Performance, he further honed his skills at Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead workshop. With influences like John Coltrane, Stan Getz, and Chris Potter, Frahm’s saxophone virtuosity is firmly rooted in the jazz tradition, yet exhibits a distinct voice that is uniquely his own.
Frahm’s professional career took off in 1998 with his debut recording as a leader, “Sorry, No Decaf,” for Palmetto Records. This was soon followed by a series of duets with Mehldau in 2001, titled “Don’t Explain.” Since then, he has been prolific both as a leader and a collaborator. Some of his notable works include “We Used to Dance” (2005), “Project A” with Bruce Katz (2009), and “New by Two” with Johannes Mössinger (2017). He has also worked as a sideman with artists like Omer Avital and Brad Mehldau, contributing to albums like “New Song” (2014) and “Jacob’s Ladder” (2020–2021).
Frahm is not only a sought-after collaborator but also an invited soloist, performing with ensembles like the Sant Andreu Jazz Band in Barcelona. His discography, filled with numerous contributions as a leader, co-leader, sideman, and invited soloist, speaks volumes about his versatility and the high regard in which he is held in the jazz community.
Page last updated 6/24/2023.