Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander delivers his first album of all ballads with 2013's Touching. Once again working with his longtime cohorts -- pianist Harold Mabern, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth -- Alexander has crafted a bluesy, soulful, and romantic album that, while soft in conception, is in no way smooth. Alexander is a long avowed straight-ahead jazz stylist and Touching is no exception. Here, he plays in his own no-nonsense way, often with limited embellishment on the melody lines and always with a muscular sense of rhythm and swing when soloing. What is also pleasing is that Mabern and Alexander have chosen a handful of lesser-performed songs. Here, we get songs like pianist Bobby Lyle's gorgeous "Touching," which was inspired by Stanley Turrentine's version of his 1975 album Have You Ever Seen the Rain?, as well as superb takes of Michael Jackson's "Gone Too Soon," John Coltrane's "Central Park West," and "The Way She Makes Me Feel," from the Yentl soundtrack. Ultimately, Touching is a steamy album, with just enough classy restraint to make it a perfect accompaniment for any stylish afterglow.
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AllMusic Review by Matt Collar