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Alex Graham: The Good Life

Dan McClenaghan By

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A quick trip to multiple reedman Alex Graham's web site finds his sound compared to Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, and Horace Silver, but a couple of spins of The Good Life tells you that these reactions must be referring to the band's collective sound. Graham plays alto sax, flute, and clarinet—the latter two reeds on the opener only—but he's an alto saxophonist first and foremost on this outing. His tone on that main horn sounds like Jackie McLean's to me—tart and tangy, with a little bit of a slur in his articulation and some edge in the sound.

Of the six tunes here, two are originals and four are penned by others—Wayne Shorter's "It's a Long Way Down," Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night," Warren/Gordon's "I Had the Craziest Dream," and the Distal/Reardon gem "The Good Life."

The band sounds particularly inspired on the Shorter piece, a driving up-tempo groove where the rhythm section locks in, with a bounce in its step, behind a sizzling Graham. The leader's original "Push" teases with that previously mentioned flute/alto/clarinet interplay on the intro. It's a fine arrangement, and I wish he'd done some more of this, but it's all alto for the rest of the way—and his snappy "Explosion" sounds like a cooker right off a sixties Blue Note set.

"The Good Life" slows the pace and showcases Graham's ballad playing—sweet and soulful, with a contained energy, his finest blowing on the record.

A strong outing from alto saxophonist Alexander Graham.

Track Listing: Push; I Had the Craziest Dream; It

Personnel: Alex Graham: alto saxophone, flute, clarinet; Rick Roe: piano; Rodney Whitaker: bass; Joe Strasser: drums.

Title: The Good Life | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Origin Records


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