360

Wayne Escoffery: Uptown

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
Wayne Escoffery: Uptown
On Uptown, his fifth album as a leader, the impressive 34-year-old tenor saxophonist {Wayne Escoffery employs an old-fashioned soul jazz lineup of sax, Hammond B-3 organ, electric guitar and drums. But don't expect to hear the sort of bluesy "uptown" jams associated with classic soul jazz tenors like Gene Ammons, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis or Stanley Turrentine. While he's a hard-swinging tenor with a big, warm tone, Escoffery's passion, expressiveness and long, flowing solos, as well as his thoughtful, forward-thinking compositions, place him more in the tradition of progressive post-bop tenors like Wayne Shorter and Joe Henderson.

A former student of the late, great alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, the London-born, Connecticut-raised Escoffery is perhaps best known for his key (and ongoing) role in trumpeter Tom Harrell's highly regarded quintet. Since moving to New York nearly a decade ago, he's also held down important sideman jobs with Ben Riley's Monk Legacy project, Mingus Big Band,Eric Reed, Abdullah Ibrahim and others. Here, he's joined by an energetic and cohesive group of contemporaries including his main foil, Israeli guitarist Avi Rothbard, omnipresent organist Gary Versace and the talented young drummer Jason Brown.

The set opens strongly with Rothbard's hard-driving "No Desert," followed by an unusually upbeat take on Duke Ellington's "I Got It Bad" and another forceful tune from Rothbard, "Cross Bronx." The most inspired track is Escoffery's exploratory "Gulf of Aqaba," with its chant-like refrain and Middle Eastern flourishes. Here, as on several other tunes, McLean's inspiration is apparent in Escoffery's slightly sharp harmonies and his ability to combine mainstream, bop-oriented playing with more outside influences. The album's closing number, Escoffery's "Easy Now," is an easy, loping blues that's the group's most straight-ahead effort at capturing a vintage uptown vibe.

Track Listing

No Desert; I Got It Bad; Cross Bronx; You Know I Care; Road from Eilat; Gulf of Aqaba; Nu Soul; Maya's Waltz; Easy Now.

Personnel

Wayne Escoffery: tenor sax; Avi Rothbard: guitar; Gary Vesace: organ; Jason Brown: drums.

Album information

Title: Uptown | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Posi-Tone Records

Post a comment about this album

Tags

View events near New York City
Jazz Near New York City
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon

More

Read URBAN(E)
URBAN(E)
Mike Fahie Jazz Orchestra
Read All Figured Out
All Figured Out
Derek Brown and The Holland Concert Jazz Orchestra

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.