Eric Alexander: It's All In The Game (2006)
A veteran at 37, Alexander is at the stage in his musical journey where he has become something more than the sum total of his influences. Manifested in his sound are the very qualities referred to above, and in Harold Mabern he has arguably the perfect pianistic foil; the fact that Mabern is almost double Alexander's age is perhaps the strongest evidence there could be for the lasting appeal of this particular jazz idiom.
Alexander is also becoming something of a composer to watch. His "Take 11" finds him putting over a solo that evokes the spirit of Wayne Shorter at the same time as it retains his own burgeoning musical personality. It's relatively easy to pull off this trick when the material is as rarely heard as effective jazz as Donny Hathaway and Roberta Flack's "Where Is The Love?", which the quartet treats with worthy reverence at the same time it stays some distance on the right side of sumptuous.
What it all comes down to is the fact that there should be a place in any open-minded listener's experience for music of this calibre. This reviewer will find a place on the shelves that's no great alphabetical distance from Fred Anderson, or Derek Bailey either, for that matter.
Track Listing: Where Or When; Typhoon 11; Where Is The Love?; It's All In The Game; Open And Shut; Ruby My Dear; Little Lucas; Bye Bye Baby.
Personnel: Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Harold Mabern: piano; Nat Reeves: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.
Record Label: HighNote Records