Eric Alexander

Gentle Ballads, Vol. 2

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Like its predecessor, Gentle Ballads, Gentle Ballads, Vol. 2 is another fairly low-key session led by Eric Alexander. Not only is the personnel identical (pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist John Webber, and drummer Joe Farnsworth), but the cover art once again features a nude photo by the late Jeanloup Sieff, quite possibly the same model from the same photo shoot. The tenor saxophonist mixes things up a bit more during this 2006 session, playing ballads that were hits for popular singers ("Mona Lisa" and "I'm a Fool to Want You"), 1960s Broadway ("Who Can I Turn To"), and 1960s pop ("The Look of Love"), in addition to the expected standards. Best are the deliberate take of Duke Ellington's timeless melancholy ballad "I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)" and a bluesy, loping treatment of Neal Hefti's "Li'l Darlin'," which became a signature piece for Count Basie. The John Coltrane influence is again apparent, though Alexander isn't a mere clone, even if this enjoyable date falls short of being groundbreaking.

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