Eric Alexander

Man with a Horn

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Eric Alexander can play the tenor saxophone. Armed with a love for the masters and the ability to take their sonic images into his own realm, he is reaching the goal of attaining a personal sound. His tone, ideas, and embellishments are straight-ahead and swinging. His capacity for bluesy, soulful outbursts or fluttery Coltrane-like phrases and the sheer lyrical quality of his improvisations should command your attention. Backed on this CD by the all-time great pianist Cedar Walton and young chums bassist Dwayne Burno and drummer Joe Farnsworth, Alexander has all the tools necessary to build a skyscraper of great jazz music, and he does. There are three Jazz Messengers-like cuts that stand above the rest, with trombonist Steve Davis and trumpeter Jim Rotundi jumpin' in. They, the leader, and Farnsworth are all in the excellent ensemble One for All, and if you like these, you should also pick up on their recordings. The larger ensemble numbers "GCCJ," Walton's famous "Midnight Waltz" (aka "Twilight Waltz"), and the Davis original "I Found You" all pop and burn. The first has a singsong boppin' melody, the waltz is fairly up and even-keeled, and the original has a slight bossa feel married to a lovely melody. All are outstanding. The rest of the material also stands tall -- a hip funk original of Alexander's "Unsung Hero" might be the highlight of the disc and Walton's "Fiesta EspaƱola" is supercharged and exciting, while Alexander's prowess on ballads is never more delicately executed than during "Stars Fell on Alabama." It should be noted that Walton's performance, as well as his influence on these proceedings, takes the music up several notches. Alexander has made some very solid CDs, and at a comparably young age (he was 28 during these sessions) is making a bid for being the very best young tenor saxophonist on the scene today. This CD is highly recommended for its content and for the excellent recording techniques that let Alexander and his buddies flourish.

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