Robert Alexander

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Coming straight out of the Tommy Dorsey style of straight-on swinging and pretty melodic lines, Robert Alexander became one of the music industry's top studio players, recording frequently with singing…
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Coming straight out of the Tommy Dorsey style of straight-on swinging and pretty melodic lines, Robert Alexander became one of the music industry's top studio players, recording frequently with singing stars such as Perry Como and Frank Sinatra. He hailed from New England, and began playing the horn in high-school band. Alexander joined the Fenton Brothers Orchestra in 1940 and began collaborating with the innovative Joe Marsala soon thereafter, the pair of collaborators picking up extra cash at dance band jobs. Alexander joined the Coast Guard until 1945, then wound up playing in the band of Jimmy Dorsey, his original idol's brother. The freelance life began right after about half a year on the road with Eddy Duchin; perhaps it was the shenanigans of this star that prompted Alexander into contemplating a change in lifestyle.

While mostly active as a sideman, Alexander did cut the album Progressive Jazz for the Grand Award label, a title that might seem out of line for such a traditional player but actually makes sense from the perspective of the man's evolving career. Like all great studio players, Alexander found ways to progress through the maze of music that was put in front of him. His solutions, like those of the other players around him, made the music vividly light up the room -- on some of these sessions. Much would depend on the arranger, and in some cases the art was simply to provide window dressing, exactly as asked for. At any rate, Alexander could never be accused of simply playing it safe in his studio career. He shows up on some unusual items, from a Jan Akkerman progressive rock solo effort to classic recordings by folk group the Weavers. The worst pun in an album title on which Alexander plays is Eartha Quake by Eartha Kitt.