133

Eric Alexander: Dead Center

Jack Bowers By

Sign in to view read count
Eric Alexander: Dead Center Dead Center. What a marvelous title. If young tenor star Eric Alexander isn't "dead center" on his latest album for HighNote Records, it would take an especially sharp-eyed cat with a microscope to notice. Fact is, Alexander has been nailing the target with unerring accuracy for a number of years now, and people are starting to take heed. Not that it makes much difference to Alexander, a throwback to an earlier time when jazz musicians, eager to learn from any source, scurried from gig to gig, staying up all night if necessary, simply because they loved to play and would do so anywhere, anytime at the drop of a downbeat. Even though Alexander doesn't miss much sleep and runs miles each day to stay in shape, that pretty much describes his temperament to a T.

Alexander not only has a large, clean and likable sound, reminiscent of Dexter Gordon or George Coleman, his technique is flawless, he's never at a loss for the proper note or phrase, and he swings like every chorus may be his last. Swinging is what his partners do best too, and you won't find a more attentive or reliable threesome than pianist Harold Mabern, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth, longtime friends and colleagues who have performed regularly with Alexander and recorded with him on a number of occasions. The rapport is secure and unmistakable.

Mabern, who shows no signs of slowing down at age 68, takes the first solo on the opener, Alexander's "One for Steve," a walking blues written for a late fan from Philly, before the leader weighs in with some earnest thoughts of his own. Herbie Hancock's seldom-heard "Sonrisa" is next, followed by a brace of standards, Lerner and Loewe's "Almost Like Being in Love" and the Doris Day hit from the film Romance on the High Seas, Sammy Cahn/Jule Styne's "It's Magic."

Mabern wrote the rhythmic bossa "A Few Miles from Memphis," McCoy Tyner the plaintive ballad "Search for Peace," guitarist Pat Martino the dynamic title selection. The finale, a rapid-fire reading of a second Lerner and Loewe Broadway classic, "I Could Have Danced All Night," is a tour de force for Alexander and his mates, starting in waltz time, then releasing the throttle for scorching statements by Alexander and Farnsworth before stopping on the proverbial dime.

As usual, Alexander hits every note dead center, and in spite of its fair-to-middling fifty-two minute playing time, the album is warmly recommended, as none of those minutes is discounted or squandered.


Track Listing: One for Steve; Sonrisa; Almost Like Being in Love; It's Magic; A Few Miles from Memphis; Search for Peace; Dead Center; I Could Have Danced All Night

Personnel: Eric Alexander (tenor saxophone), Harold Mabern (piano), John Webber (bass), Joe Farnsworth (drums)

Title: Dead Center | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: HighNote Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Better Angels of Our Nature CD/LP/Track Review The Better Angels of Our Nature
by Karl Ackermann
Published: July 20, 2017
Read What Brought You Here? CD/LP/Track Review What Brought You Here?
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 20, 2017
Read My Head Is Listening CD/LP/Track Review My Head Is Listening
by John Sharpe
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Passin' Thru CD/LP/Track Review Passin' Thru
by Ian Patterson
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Ugly Beauty CD/LP/Track Review Ugly Beauty
by Nick Davies
Published: July 20, 2017
Read Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet CD/LP/Track Review Relaxin’ With the Miles Davis Quintet
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 19, 2017
Read "Skyjack" CD/LP/Track Review Skyjack
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Ocean of Storms" CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "The Invariant" CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Noumenon" CD/LP/Track Review Noumenon
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 26, 2016
Read "Acoustically Speaking" CD/LP/Track Review Acoustically Speaking
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 6, 2016
Read "Out 'N' In" CD/LP/Track Review Out 'N' In
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: October 14, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!