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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Chicago Fire

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When weighing the merits of tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, two words spring readily to mind: prolific and consistent. Alexander, an implacable workhorse even in his mid-40s, has since 1992 recorded no less than thirty-seven albums as leader of his own groups and appeared on many others as a sideman. As for consistency, Alexander has been widely praised, and rightly so, for his awesome technique and seemingly endless reservoir of eye-opening ad libs. In other words, he approaches every theme with the utmost precision and within his sphere has never been known to deliver a solo that is less than earnest ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Touching

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Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander has chosen an intriguing title for his latest recording on HighNote Records, as Touching can not only be used as a verb or an adjective, whose meanings differ widely, but in this case is also a blues (by pianist Bobby Lyle), the opening salvo in an album of ballads and blues that lays bare Alexander's warmer side. For those who've grown accustomed to the tenor virtuoso's formidable technique and quicksilver phrases, this may come as a revelation. Even though best known for up-tempo skirmishes Alexander has always been as comfortable among ballads as he is with ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander / Vincent Herring: Friendly Fire

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For those who long for the time when hard bop reigned supreme, Blue Note and Prestige Records were riding high, and no-holds-barred saxophone cutting contests and unscripted jam sessions were the order of the day, here's a sure cure for any lament that those days are lost and gone forever. From the opening notes of Friendly Fire, recorded live in August 2011 at the New York City supper club Smoke, the it's clear that the album's principal combatants, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and altoist Vincent Herring, have donned their gloves and aren't about to let the adversary across the ring ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Don't Follow the Crowd

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Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, now well into his forties and no longer the precocious young lion who burst on the New York scene some two decades ago, nevertheless remains the relentless hunter, avidly pursuing--and easily wrestling to the ground--obscure melodies that are beyond the pale of his contemporaries. Such diligence pays dividends again on Don't Follow the Crowd, on which Alexander heeds his own advice by including songs from such seemingly inapt films as The Deer Hunter and Shaft's Big Score! as well as a charming bossa ("Footsteps") by smooth jazz guitarist Steve Briody, a tasteful ballad ("She's Out of ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Don't Follow the Crowd

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The title of Eric Alexander's Don't Follow the Crowd is somewhat ironic, as it is one in a string of recordings, on the HighNote label, that have all been cast from the same mold. Alexander can be counted on to deliver well-crafted, straight-ahead jazz albums that may not break any new musical ground, but are beautifully played and impeccably recorded, with a selection of swinging blues and ballads. If, perhaps, a little more aggressively played than 2009's Revival of the Fittest (HighNote), this record is, nonetheless, classic Alexander. The quartet is tight, well-rehearsed and clearly a regularly working ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Eric Alexander: Mode for Mabes & Revival of the Fittest

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Eric AlexanderMode for MabesDelmark2009 Eric AlexanderRevival of the FittestHighNote2009 Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and pianist Harold Mabern first shared a bandstand in public during Alexander's senior year at William Paterson College when Mabern (one of his teachers) invited him to sit in at a local New Jersey club. It was not to be the last time, either in person or in a studio session. These two CDs, recorded 12 years apart, capture the ever-deepening ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Eric Alexander Quartet: Chim Chim Cheree

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Chim Chim Cheree has been dubbed “a tribute to John Coltrane." Returning with usual sidemen Harold Mabern at the piano, Joe Farnsworth on drums, and bassist John Webber, this album represents a thorough examination of Coltrane's music made up of Coltrane originals and tunes Coltrane ostensibly owned throughout his career. While George Coleman, Dexter Gordon, and Sonny Stitt are most often cited as the foremost influences on Alexander, Coltrane is clearly among them. Alexander's take on “You Don't Know What Love Is" showcases his lush subtone in the lower register as he cadenzas his way through the ...

LIVE REVIEWS

Be-Bop at the Bach with Eric Alexander's Quartet and Jackie Ryan, Half Moon Bay, CA

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Eric Alexander Quartet and Jackie RyanDouglas Beach HouseHalf Moon Bay, CaliforniaMay 10, 2009

Considered one of the top jazz tenor sax players of our time, Eric Alexander and his quartet laid down a heavy be-bop style show at the Douglas Beach House (aka Bach Dancing & Dynamite Society) in Half Moon Bay, California on May 10th 2009. Accompanying him were pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Michael Zisman, and drummer Akira Tana with featured jazz vocalist Jackie Ryan. The packed venue expected an evening of hot jazz and they got it.

Alexander took the first tune as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

The Eric Alexander Quartet: Prime Time

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Prime Time, another tour de force from tenor saxophone standout Eric Alexander, is one of those two-for-one packages that includes a DVD and CD so one can see as well as hear Alexander's quartet at work. While both components were recorded in concert in Asheville, NC, the CD / DVD performances aren't the same (unless they've been edited, as the playing times are entirely dissimilar). There is one song on the CD ("Some Other Time") that is not on the DVD, and three additional tunes ("Yasashiku," “First Impression" and the title selection, “Prime Time") on the latter.

The DVD opens ...

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Eric Alexander: Three Times Around the Block

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Eric Alexander Quartet Prime Time HighNote Records 2008 Eric Alexander Quartet My Favorite Things Venus Records 2008 Eric Alexander Quartet Gentle Ballads III Venus Records 2008

Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, 40, made his debut at the Monk Competition in 1991. Since then, he's won the hearts and minds of jazz fans with straight-ahead performances employing small, acoustic ensembles in standards-appreciative settings. With him on these ...

EXTENDED ANALYSIS

Eric Alexander Quartet: Prime Time

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Eric Alexander Quartet Prime Time HighNote Records 2008

After more than fifteen years on the scene, Eric Alexander deserves his due as one of today's top tenor saxophonists. He has trained and toughed it out with some of the best musicians in the business, and is a player possessing both accessibility and intelligence. Prime Time, which features Alexander backed by a rhythm section drawn from his several gigging bands, offers valuable insight into his career and mindset.

Recorded at a concert in Asheville, North Carolina in spring of 2007, the ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander: Temple of Olympic Zeus

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According to the (incomplete) discography at his website, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, not yet forty years old, has already recorded more than seventy albums as a sideman, and nearly twenty as leader. He must stand outside recording studios in the morning waiting for the doors to open!

To say that Alexander's perseverance and enthusiasm have paid dividends would be an understatement. One reason he is called upon to perform in so many ensembles of various shapes and sizes is his remarkable consistency. To paraphrase a well-known airline commercial, Alexander loves to play, and it shows.

MULTIPLE REVIEWS

Eric Alexander: Five Corners & Temple of Olympic Zeus

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Dmitri Kolesnik Five Corners Twinz-Challenge 2007 Eric Alexander The Temple of Olympic Zeus High Note 2007

Originally from the rain-drenched Northwest, Eric Alexander came to New York in the late '80s amidst a formidable new wave of young tenor-totin' lions, including the likes of Seamus Blake, Joshua Redman, Mark Turner and a triumvirate of Chrises: Cheek, Potter and Speed. From the start, Alexander hewed more closely to the hard bop party ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Eric Alexander Quartet: The Live at the Keynote

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These impressive live sessions by tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth come from a 1999 gig at the Keynote in Tokyo. Mabern's furious “The Bee Hive, an intense bopper showcasing each musician in turn, packs a powerful punch as an opener. Alexander's subtle handling of the ballad “Maybe September suggests the lyricism of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, yet in a distinctive, modern setting. The racehorse tempo chosen for Cole Porter's “In the Still of the Night at first seems ridiculous, but Alexander pulls it off in a virtuoso ...



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