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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Michael G. Nastos
Tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and keyboardist Bruce Katz pay instrumental tribute to the rhythm & blues tunes of pop icon Aretha Franklin in a manner that is removed from stock arrangements or rote interpretations. Frahm and Katz tend to change things up a bit on the majority of these well-chosen selections, which bear only a minimal resemblance to the powerful songs of Sister 'Re. That Frahm's modernistic personal style is sublimated, or that Katz doesn't groove hard and strong, is not the issue. What is at hand makes this group stand alone as a unit dedicated to this music of their youth, leaving karaoke or copycat charts to much less-talented musicians, as they ...
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Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Michael G. Nastos
Tenor saxophonist Joel Frahm and keyboardist Bruce Katz pay instrumental tribute to the rhythm & blues tunes of pop icon Aretha Franklin in a manner that is removed from stock arrangements or rote interpretations. Frahm and Katz tend to change things up a bit on the majority of these well-chosen selections, which bear only a minimal resemblance to the powerful songs of Sister 'Re. That Frahm's modernistic personal style is sublimated, or that Katz doesn't groove hard and strong, is not the issue. What is at hand makes this group stand alone as a unit dedicated to this music of their youth, leaving karaoke or copycat charts to much less-talented musicians, as they bring a different heartfelt aesthetic to these proceedings. Electric guitarist Chris Vitarello is a major factor adding new voicings, while Franklin's electric bass guitarist Jerry Jemmott makes his funky presence felt on five of these selections. The always exemplary and talented Katz rotates on piano, Hammond B-3, and Wurlitzer, while a two-man horn section is added on three tracks. Of the obvious modifications, "Maybe I'm A Fool" is a sprightly waltz with Katz on piano in more an N.Y.C. street style, while the famous "Rock Steady" is much lighter on its feet than the original, and does not necessarily "get down" with dual bass, drums, and electric pianos. Completely off the charts, Vitarello's slide guitar à la Duane Allman or Derek Trucks moves in secular-to-New Orleans-shuffle modes during "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." Frahm's influences cum King Curtis via Michael Brecker clearly come to the surface on the choogling shuffle "Love the One You're With," but the churchy organ of Katz spurs a light or loping funk and some clockwork rhythms for "Spirit in the Dark" where the tenor saxophonist adopts a spiritual stance akin to John Coltrane. A very slow, urban blues accented by Vitarello and the horns identifies "It Ain't Fair," similar to the Art Blakey/Bobby Timmons evergreen "Moanin'," while back to New Orleans, the upbeat, funky pace of "Packing Up, Getting Ready to Go" might have been a better first number than the last selection. Unfortunately, the opener "The House That Jack Built" is the one track that really falls flat, a clearly simplified cover that belies the creative nature of these musicians. Overall this recording expresses a good time had by all, clearly a labor of love, and brings Franklin's Detroit gospel to star power rhythm & blues music forward in a different light. While not likely to shake and quake booties or turn dance music into an intellectual thesis, Frahm and Katz achieve a balance somewhere in the middle that should be pleasing to many younger jazz and older non-jazz fans.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/25/2009
  • Label: Anzic Records
  • UPC: 896434001283
  • Catalog Number: 6101
  • Sales rank: 138,417

Album Credits

Performance Credits
Joel Frahm Primary Artist, Tenor Saxophone
Bruce Katz Piano, Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer, Hammond B3
Marty Ballou Acoustic Bass
Lorne Entress Drums
Jay Collins Baritone Saxophone
Jerry Jemmott Electric Bass
Kenny Rampton Trumpet
Ralph Rosen Drums
Chris Vitarello Guitar
Technical Credits
Aretha Franklin Composer
Steve Stills Composer
Bruce Katz Producer, Liner Notes
Ahmet Ertegun Composer
James Farber Engineer
Ronald Dean Miller Composer
Mark Wilder Mastering
Joseph Scriven Composer
Charles C. Converse Composer
Joel Frahm Producer, Liner Notes
Betty Nelson Composer
Paul Barry Composer
Anat Cohen Executive Producer
Oded Lev-Ari Executive Producer
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