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Things couldn’t be tougher for young musicians trying to make a name for themselves on the talent-rich-but-job-scarce New York scene. Or, perhaps in these dicey economic times they could. In any case, fans of straight-ahead may be glad that saxophonists Asher and Alex Stein have stuck it out.
Siblings and even twins aren’t that rare on the local jazz circuit these days, but these promising brothers have been holding their own in clubs around The Big Apple following their recent stint at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both Alexhe’s the tenorand Asher on the alto have been forging their double identities by working in venues like Smalls and Sweet Rhythm and that nightly on-the-job training appears to be paying off.
Their debut recording Quixotic, titled after Asher’s tune on the disc, indicates that they could be a duo worth following as they develop as players and composers. The CD was executive-produced by Jerry Mandelbaum and produced by veteran bassist Dwayne Burno. Showcasing the brothers’ quintet, Quixotic balances a dollop of their original offerings with the requisite serving of evergreens on which, unlike some young players of their generation, they remember to honor the melody (“Embraceable You,” “East of the Sun,” “This Time the Dream’s on Me”). These are joined by a likeable rendition of Barry Harris’ “And So I Love You” as well as a couple of compositions by band mate Mferghu who also plays effective piano throughout. On some tracks guests Duane Eubanks on trumpet and trombonist Jonathan Voltzok add some extra sparkle in just the right measure to this able working band, which also features Doug Largent (bass) and Joe Blaxx (drums).
Track Listing: Quixotic; And So I Love You; Jammin? at the JCT; Embraceable You; Eve's Drop; Midlife Crisis; East of the Sun; Mr. QC; Charmed Quark; Trailblazer; You?ve Been Had; This Time the Dream?s On Me.
Personnel: Asher Stein: alto saxophone; Alex Stein: tenor saxophone; Mferghu: piano; Doug Largent: bass; Joe Blaxx: drums; Duane Eubanks: trumpet (tracks 2,3,6); Jonathan Voltzok; trombone (tracks 2,3,6 ,9).
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.