Jeff Alkire

One Summer in Winters

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After years touring as a bandmember behind Ray Charles (among many, many others), alto sax player Jeff Alkire delivers a fair outing of post-bop stylings with a general chill-out mood to them. The mood is helped along primarily by Alkire's playing itself, but there are able accompanying players. Riley Mullins on trumpet and Craig Bailey on alto flute provide the bulk of the windy sound that comes to be symbolic of the album. The theme of a relaxed summer in a natural setting is helped by the breathy playing on the part of the lead three players, but also by some careful cymbal effects courtesy of drummer Steve Johns (who also pulls out some absolutely exceptional rapid-fire riffing from time to time, whether entirely suited to the piece or not). The music is programmatic in its approach, descriptive of a setting. At the same time, though, a handful of standards allows the band to cut loose with their own stylings, showing off the contemporary New York sound capably. The playing here, as well as the relatively complex compositions, seem almost out of place for a self-made label such as this. Alkire probably doesn't have the name recognition (or perhaps even the fullest bandleading experience) necessary for the biggest labels, but a smaller label with an eye toward innovation and quality (such as Origin Records) may be where someone like Alkire ultimately belongs. A performer who certainly deserves to be above his current status, as this album evidences strongly.

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