Since finishing second to Joshua Redman in the Thelonious Monk Institute's tenor sax competition, Eric Alexander has built an impressive discography as a leader, while also drawing a lot of attention in both the U.S. and Japan. This Venus CD, recorded in 2005 and one of the last sessions by pianist John Hicks (who died just over a year later), primarily focuses on standards, with the exception of Hicks' tense hard bop vehicle "Avotcja." A loping treatment of "Sunday in New York" is a solid opener, conveying the image of a brisk walk in Central Park on a cool autumn day. Alexander's driving arrangement of "Dearly Beloved" and the lush, slowly savored duet with Hicks of "Like Someone in Love" are obvious highlights. He also revives the unjustly obscure "My Girl Is Just Enough Woman for Me" in swinging fashion. The hard-charging setting of "Alone Together" shows the influence of Dexter Gordon, while the gorgeous interpretation of "My Romance" is the perfect wrap to an outstanding date. Bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth, two of New York City's most in-demand players and regular collaborators with Alexander, provide strong support throughout the recording.
AllMusic Review by Ken Dryden