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 (52:03).

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

Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: HighNote Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Live at PafA CD/LP/Track Review Live at PafA
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Ocean of Storms CD/LP/Track Review Ocean of Storms
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "Moving Still" CD/LP/Track Review Moving Still
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: October 5, 2016
Read "Chasing Shadows" CD/LP/Track Review Chasing Shadows
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Nearly Extinct" CD/LP/Track Review Nearly Extinct
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 17, 2016
Read "Love Song" CD/LP/Track Review Love Song
by Tyran Grillo
Published: September 19, 2016
Read "Functioning Broke" CD/LP/Track Review Functioning Broke
by Doug Collette
Published: July 3, 2016
Read "Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Vilnius Jazz Festival
by John Sharpe
Published: January 22, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!