Eric Alexander

Solid!

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This CD appears under the listing of tenorman Eric Alexander only as a matter of alphabetical convenience, for he is in fact co-billed with pianist John Hicks, bassist George Mraz and drummer Idris Muhammad in this re-creation of a Prestige leaderless date. Anticipating Prestige's 50th anniversary in 1999, producer Todd Barkan combed the files to find out which were the label's most successful records and then, with Hicks, chose nine songs -- not all of which are in the Prestige catalog, by the way -- for this generation-spanning hard bop quartet to purvey. Alexander serves straight-up, direct, honest emotion on Fred Lacey's "Theme for Ernie," and gets a bit lost on Miles Davis' "Four" before extracting himself neatly, and also does a nice job with the theme of Sonny Clark's "My Conception," an ironic title given that the opening bars (and a few other besides) clearly provided the basis for Bill Evans' famous "Waltz for Debby." Vibist Joe Locke sits in for Alexander on "Fire Waltz"; trumpeter Jim Rotondi joins the front line (but doesn't solo) on "Little Melonae" and "Straight Street," and a relaxed Hicks takes on Monk's "Light Blue" alone. Nothing startling here, but fans of uncompromising modern hard bop will definitely enjoy this.

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