141

Eric Alexander: Mode For Mabes

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, who turns 30 this year, has worked with Pat Martino, Freddy Cole, Mel Rhyne, Charles Earland, Peter Bernstein, Joe Magnarelli, Mark Elf, John Swana, Cecil Payne, and his teacher at William Paterson College, pianist Harold Mabern. Alexander’s ninth recording as a leader features a Chicago rhythm section of Mabern, bassist John Webber, drummer George Fludas, and hornmen Jim Rotondi on trumpet & Steve Davis on trombone. The modern mainstream sextet reveals the talents of a ‘90s young lion saxophonist deserving wider recognition. Alexander placed second to Joshua Redman in the 1991 Thelonious Monk Institute saxophone competition and released his first recording the following year.

The title track, "Mode for Mabes," features solos all around. Mabern races through melodic figures with distinct articulation, driving the music and maintaining excitement. The sextet’s arrangements provide a rich horn harmony that serves to build excitement as well as to extend the sound spectrum. Like Alexander, both trumpeter Rotondi and trombonist Davis have a respect for the quality of the tone produced from their instruments. The trumpeter remains loose and open, while the trombonist moves fluidly from phrase to phrase with a slight edginess in his sound. Both turn up the heat on occasion, particularly on Davis’ composition "Erik the Red." Fludas’ drums and Webber’s bass provide a solid rhythmic foundation throughout. Each of them steps into the solo spotlight on "Love Thy Neighbor" with his own melodic presentation. Alexander controls his delivery – both on ballads and up-tempo burners – in a way that allows the listener to appreciate the spaces between the notes just as much as the sounds themselves. His improvisational style is such that melodies continue to roll through while the saxophonist dresses up the room with a variety of ideas. John Coltrane’s "Naima" begins with the pianist adding a few eccentric harmonic elements and continues with a straight-ahead ensemble approach. Mabern spins loops of two-handed phrases, while the saxophonist remains more aloof. Alexander and Rotondi wrote "Stay Straight," an up-tempo romp that emphasizes timeless bop lines that stretch on without end. Recommended.


Track Listing: Mode for Mabes; Sugar Ray; For Heaven

| Record Label: Delmark Records | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Acceptance CD/LP/Track Review Acceptance
by Tyran Grillo
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Wild CD/LP/Track Review The Wild
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 26, 2017
Read This Is Nate Najar CD/LP/Track Review This Is Nate Najar
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Joy Comes Back CD/LP/Track Review Joy Comes Back
by James Nadal
Published: February 26, 2017
Read Apocalypse CD/LP/Track Review Apocalypse
by Julian Derry
Published: February 26, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read "Dark Territory" CD/LP/Track Review Dark Territory
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 15, 2016
Read "Louisiana Soul Revival featuring Doug Duffey" CD/LP/Track Review Louisiana Soul Revival featuring Doug Duffey
by James Nadal
Published: May 16, 2016
Read "Parrhésie" CD/LP/Track Review Parrhésie
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 17, 2016
Read "Southern Lights" CD/LP/Track Review Southern Lights
by Budd Kopman
Published: May 26, 2016
Read "Satori" CD/LP/Track Review Satori
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "This is Life" CD/LP/Track Review This is Life
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 29, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!