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Eric Alexander: Temple of Olympic Zeus

Jack Bowers By

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According to the (incomplete) discography at his website, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, not yet forty years old, has already recorded more than seventy albums as a sideman, and nearly twenty as leader. He must stand outside recording studios in the morning waiting for the doors to open!



To say that Alexander's perseverance and enthusiasm have paid dividends would be an understatement. One reason he is called upon to perform in so many ensembles of various shapes and sizes is his remarkable consistency. To paraphrase a well-known airline commercial, Alexander loves to play, and it shows.



Although his lexicon is decidedly modern, his propensity to swing in any context and at any tempo is a throwback to such role models as Dexter Gordon, George Coleman, Sonny Rollins and other straight-from-the-hip tenors. He'd have been right at home in those freewheeling Blue Note / Prestige / Riverside sessions from the '50s and '60s.



Temple of Olympic Zeus, whose name was inspired by Alexander's visit to Athens, Greece last year, consists of three original compositions, a brace of standards, Donny Hathaway's "Someday We'll All Be Free, Curtis Montgomery's "Blues for David and Bud Powell's "I'll Keep Loving You. Even though I'm partial to the faster-paced numbers, it must be conceded that Alexander is equally persuasive on the ballad "Some Other Time and the medium-tempo "I'm Gonna Laugh You Right Out of My Life.



Trumpeter Jim Rotondi, a long-time friend and colleague, is an able front-line partner ("Temple, "Dave's System, "Lucas Too"), pianist David Hazeltine (on several of whose albums Alexander has guest-starred) is an adaptable improviser and perceptive accompanist, while the rhythm section (Hazeltine, bassist Nat Reeves, drummer Joe Farnsworth) calmly takes care of business without barking or stepping on anyone's toes.



Like all of Alexander's albums, this is for the hard-core jazz enthusiast and requires one's earnest thought and unwavering attention. If you'd like to hear Alexander help enliven a larger ensemble, check out Danny D'Imperio's Big Band Bloviation, vols. 1 and 2.



This is a splendid example of Alexander's steady maturation as a tenor virtuoso in a more intimate setting. Alexander always comes to play, and always brings fresh and provocative ideas to the table—in this case, the Temple. The gods must surely be pleased.


Track Listing: The Temple of Olympic Zeus; Someday We

Personnel: Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Jim Rotondi: trumpet (3), flugelhorn (1, 2, 6); David Hazeltine: piano; Nat Reeves: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.

Title: Temple of Olympic Zeus | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: HighNote Records

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