Alexander McCabe: The Round (2005)
In a career that has spanned two decades, Alexander McCabe has played with Chico O'Farrill, Harold Mabern, and Ray Charles, which should say something about his playing on the alto saxophone. He counts John Coltrane and Charlie Parker among his influences, and their mark is evident in his playing. However, it is quite a different thing to go out and write tunes and record an album. While there is no doubt that McCabe has what it takes to give a composition some grit, he can also go the other way and shoot a tune with an overabundance of notes.
First, the good. Joe Barbato has a nice light touch on the piano, playing with the right sense of finesse and lending a glow, as he does on the sparkling "Jugo. His is a quick scamper that he enunciates with enough accents to give it a strong harmonic presence. McCabe is assertive and in control, essaying quick changes with seamless ease. "Village Walk is another tune that captures the imagination. The ballad has McCabe etching a deep furrow, the assertion never getting out of control. Barbato makes the piano sing; with emphatic support from Ugonna Okegwo on bass and Steve Johns on drums, this is one of the better tracks.
On the other hand, the progression of "Taylor Made is heavy-handed and sluggish, with the duologue between piano and drums a mere distraction. Barbato takes "Yours into a catchy swing, but McCabe overwhelms as he blows a plethora of notes with angularities that don't fit in well. Too much ain't good. As for the rest, oh well.
Track Listing: Floating; Taylor Made; The Round; Village Walk; Jugo; Yours; A Cry From the Rain Forest; Salvo.
Personnel: Alexander McCabe: alto saxophone; Joe Barbato: piano and accordion; Ugonna Okegwo: bass; Steve Johns: drums.
Record Label: Wamco Music