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Eric Alexander Quartet: The Live at the Keynote

Ken Dryden By

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These impressive live sessions by tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth come from a 1999 gig at the Keynote in Tokyo.

Mabern's furious "The Bee Hive, an intense bopper showcasing each musician in turn, packs a powerful punch as an opener. Alexander's subtle handling of the ballad "Maybe September suggests the lyricism of Coleman Hawkins and Ben Webster, yet in a distinctive, modern setting. The racehorse tempo chosen for Cole Porter's "In the Still of the Night at first seems ridiculous, but Alexander pulls it off in a virtuoso performance, supported by his capable rhythm section.

Mabern's playful introduction to "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square seems to entice Alexander to detour a bit from his lush treatment and have a bit of fun as well. The crowd responds to the swaggering rhythm of Stanley Turrentine's blues "Stan's Shuffle, and Mabern's rollicking solo nearly steals the show, after Alexander displays his gritty side. Reeves and Farnsworth provide solid support throughout the sessions; first-rate engineering gives the listener the equivalent of a front row seat.

Track Listing: The Bee Hive; Maybe September; In the Still of the Night; Edward Lee; A NIghtingale Sang in Berkeley Square; Stan's Shuffle; Alone Together.

Personnel: Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Harold Mabern: piano; Nat Reeves: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.

Title: The Live at the Keynote | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Video Arts Music

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