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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: The Only Son of One

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Not since the works of bassist Charles Mingus and saxophonist John Coltrane has there been music so charged with emotion and so engulfed in spirituality as The Only Son of One, an album that bleeds with raw sentiment as it bares the soul of its young saxophonist and composer, Wayne Escoffery, and ultimately brings much catharsis and edification. In the sorrowful and glorious vocalastics of his saxophone, Escoffery reveals the pain and ultimate triumph of his relationship with his parents and, in doing so, emerges frayed but surprisingly whole, humane and, in the process, mature and edifying as a musician. ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Uptown

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Bob Mintzer, Kirk Whalum and Ada Rovatti are just a few of today's stunning tenor sax players. Wayne Escoffery can be added to their company. Escoffery, 34, is a native of London who moved to the United States with his mother at an early age. He enjoyed singing, and was a member of the New Haven Trinity Boys Choir in Connecticut. He eventually turned to the saxophone, and has performed with a diverse array of bandleaders and ensembles, including Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet, Rufus Reid, Jimmy Cobb and the Carolyn Leonhart Group. On Uptown, he is accompanied ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Uptown

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On Uptown, his fifth album as a leader, the impressive 34-year-old tenor saxophonist {Wayne Escoffery employs an old-fashioned soul jazz lineup of sax, Hammond B-3 organ, electric guitar and drums. But don't expect to hear the sort of bluesy “uptown" jams associated with classic soul jazz tenors like Gene Ammons, Eddie “Lockjaw" Davis or Stanley Turrentine. While he's a hard-swinging tenor with a big, warm tone, Escoffery's passion, expressiveness and long, flowing solos, as well as his thoughtful, forward-thinking compositions, place him more in the tradition of progressive post-bop tenors like Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson. A ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Hopes and Dreams

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There's a distinguished history of tenor saxophonist and vibes player combos in jazz, including Lucky Thompson/Milt Jackson and Harold Land/Bobby Hutcherson. But those combos featured bands with piano. Tenor Wayne Escoffery and vibraphonist Joe Locke put more emphasis on their teamwork by eliminating the piano in Escoffery's Veneration quartet--quintet on three tracks featuring guest trumpeter Tom Harrell. The band's name alludes to the leader's desire to “play the music of what I consider the masters." There's a gravity and depth to the young (early 30s) Escoffery's sound and approach, one that clearly has benefited from his exposure ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carolyn Leonhart and Wayne Escoffery: If Dreams Come True

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Singer Carolyn Leonhart and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, a couple both on and off the bandstand, completed a smooth run at New York's Smoke the weekend of Valentine's Day 2008, highlighting the title cut from If Dreams Come True along with some well-written originals and some intelligently reworked standards. Theirs is a sweetly romantic tale: The couple met at Smoke on Feb. 14th six years ago, married in 2004 and are expecting their first child this year. The romantic backstory aside, this is a rare partnering--an informed collaboration between a voice and a saxophone--and a tricky one to pull off, given ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carolyn Leonhart and Wayne Escoffery: If Dreams Come True

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The combination of jazz vocalist Carolyn Leonhart and saxophonist Wayne Escoffery is an unusual and exciting one. Leonhart, the daughter of jazz bassist Jay Leonhart, has recorded in the past for Sunnyside Records--Steal The Moon (2000) and New 8th Day (2005). She also has provided harmony vocal work for Steely Dan over an eleven-year period. Escoffery was a member of the exciting Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Jazz Septet, with Memories of T (Concord, 2006) being critically well-received. Escoffery released his own album last year, Veneration (Savant, 2007).

Leonhart and Escoffery met in 2004 and were married two years ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Carolyn Leonhart and Wayne Escoffery: If Dreams Come True

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A charming vocalist with solid roots and versatility is a good thing. A saxophonist who can play with verve while also covering a variety of styles is equally good. Put the two together, and you've got a match made in musical heaven. Enter Carolyn Leonhart and Wayne Escoffery, a duo who met on Valentine's Day in 2002 and were married two years later.Leonhart, the daughter of bassist Jay Leonhart has two prior solo releases on Sunnyside Records--Steal the Moon (2000) and New 8th Day (2005), although she may be better known as one of the backup vocalists for ...

INTERVIEWS

Wayne Escoffery: Past And Future

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Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery has plotted a smart course to success in jazz, one based on strong educational foundations and constant exposure to the best musicians in the business. From his early days with the Jazzmobile and Artists Collective to his time at The Hartt School and the Thelonious Monk Institute, Escoffery used every opportunity to grow as an improviser, composer and bandleader. His new album is Veneration (Savant, 2007). All About Jazz contributor Jason Crane talked with Escoffery about Jackie McLean, jazz education, and improbable meetings on Valentine's Day.All About Jazz: As a way back into the past, ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Veneration: Live At Smoke

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As the title implies, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery's Veneration is a recording that pays tribute to the art of modern jazz. Recorded live at the Smoke night club in New York City, it perhaps captures the essence of jazz more authentically as a performance art. That is, music created in the moment, freshly honed in the presence of an audience, creating an experience akin to walking a tightrope without a net. That additional edge of a live performance often captures improvising musicians at their best, freezing the moment in time and preserving the event for subsequent listening.

Escoffery's veneration is further ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Veneration: Live At Smoke

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In jazz, the mainstream is defined by what the music is not, or lacks. It is jazz as a style, rather than an aesthetic, and is not a “modern" concept. Many musicians of the Swing era, when confronted with the avant-garde named bebop, chose, for many reasons, to keep playing what they knew, rather than join the bleeding edge of the time. Swing had become a style, and the mainstreamers stayed within it. Many of them played wonderful, quite personal music, which made them artists rather than mere players. Bebop, hard bop and even free jazz also ...

PODCAST

Wayne Escoffery: Respecting His Elders

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On the new episode of The Jazz Session, Jason Crane interviews saxophonist Wayne Escoffery about his life and his new album, Veneration (Savant, 2007). Escoffery was born in London and moved to New Haven, Connecticut as a child. He sang in a boys choir and then got introduced to the saxophone. Choosing the latter, Escoffery moved into the orbit of legendary saxophonist Jackie McLean, eventually attending McLean's Artist Collective and his jazz program at the Hartt School of Music. In addition to his own band, Escoffery currently performs with the Mingus Big Band, Tom Harrell, Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Veneration: Live at Smoke

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Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery's music is influenced by a long line of musicians, and on Veneration: Live at Smoke he takes a moment to pay homage to some of them. However, this live album, recorded at the New York club Smoke, is much more than a dedication to great musicians of the past. The disc showcases some of New York's finest musicians now, who add a spark of their own originality to well-known tunes. The listener is first introduced to the band with a movingly harmonic intro performed by vibraphonist Joe Locke. This leads into an interestingly familiar ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Veneration: Live at Smoke

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Live at the Village Vanguard: These magical words signified a musician had made it in the world of jazz. For the current generation of musicians, Live at Smoke may now take its place.

Tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery clearly has arrived, as evidenced on Veneration: Live at Smoke. Escoffery, who performs regularly with Tom Harrell, the Mingus Big Band and Ben Riley's Monk Legacy Septet, has honed his chops and is in clear command of his instrument. This outing provides an excellent case that his name deserves mention in any discussion of upper echelon tenor players.

The quartet outing is dedicated ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Wayne Escoffery: Veneration: Live at Smoke

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Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery has become a hot commodity as of late. Besides his two previous, well-received recordings, Intuition and Times Change, he has also appeared on Wycliffe Gordon and Jay Leonhart's This Rhythm on My Mind and Eric Reed's Happiness, among several other recordings. What emerges on Veneration, Escoffery's new live disc recorded at the New York City club Smoke, is an artist, fully formed and in command.

Escoffery leads a quartet comprised of vibraphonist Joe Locke, bassist Hans Glawischnig and drummer Lewis Nash. The brand of jazz played is sensible and melodic post-bop. Escoffery may be the ...



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