Eric Alexander: Gentle Ballads (2004)
Despite the CD's title, not all tracks are ballads, but the music rarely revs higher than mid-tempo; what you get are over 70 thoroughly mellow minutes. Most of them involve respectful takes on venerable standards: "Harlem Nocturne" appears on two tracks at different tempos, "Here's to Life" becomes a gentle samba, and "Stormy Weather" is a swinging, late-night Alexander/LeDonne duet.
There are also some lesser-heard gems like Mal Waldron's beautiful "Left Alone," the pensive Jones/Salvador tune "The Midnight Sun Will Never Set," and "Gently," a strong Alexander original that fits nicely into this set. The approach is primarily straightforward, with some nice solo turns all aroundand kudos to drummer Joe Farnsworth and bassist John Webber for keeping things interesting in the background. Gentle Ballads is a classy, romantic CD.
Track Listing: The Midnight Sun Will Never Set, Left Alone, Gently, Here's to Life, Midnight Sun, Harlem Nocturne, Soul Eyes, Under a Blanket of Blue, Stormy Weather, Chelsea Bridge, Harlem Nocturne II
Personnel: Eric Alexander (tenor sax), John Webber (bass), Mike LeDonne (piano), Joe Farnsworth (drums) Tetsuo Hara, Todd Barkan (producers)
Record Label: Venus Records