Eric Alexander – Second Impression (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/88,2 kHz | Time – 54:49 minutes | 1,1 GB | Genre: Jazz
Studio Masters, Official Digital Download – Source: HDTracks | Booklet, Front Cover | © HighNote Records
Recorded: Trading 8s Recording Studio, Paramus, NJ on March 14, 2016; Mastered by Kevin Blacker, Blackler Mastering, Brooklyn, NY
It can be argued with some validity that one’s overall movement through life is reflected in his creative endeavor, and Eric Alexander’s strength and versatility on the saxophone can be viewed from this perspective. At this point in his career, Eric has certainly covered a lot of territory, both literally and figuratively. He himself has lost count of how many albums feature his playing; our guess is 100 or more. While he has garnered critical acclaim from every corner, what has mattered most has been to establish his own voice within the illustrious bop-based jazz tradition which is exactly what he does on his latest HighNote release. The close-knit ensemble of a band of regular buddies, coupled with the bass-clef contributions of the extraordinary Bob Cranshaw, make for a listening experience not soon forgotten.
Not only has tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander recorded more than thirty-five albums as a leader since arriving in New York City some twenty years ago, he has appeared on almost as many others as a sideman. He’s such an earnest blue-collar worker that one almost expects him to carry his saxophone in a lunch pail instead of the standard instrument case. Any Second Impression would mirror the first: Alexander is a tireless craftsman who loves to play and, more to the point, always shows up ready to play. Nothing seems to impede him, even the severe back pain he was suffering as this latest recording was being made.
As the premise behind Second Impression was bold spontaneity, Alexander gathered around him a trio of longtime friends and colleagues whose musical antennae reside on the same wavelength, thus assuring that whatever path he might choose would be firm and secure. Pianist Harold Mabern and drummer Joe Farnsworth have been mainstays on a number of Alexander’s previous albums, while bassist Bob Cranshaw, the rhythm section’s relative “newcomer” at age eighty-three, had worked alongside Mabern since their days in Chicago in the ’50s and brought a wealth of experience to the task at hand. Needless to say, Alexander had no second thoughts about Cranshaw’s inclusion on the team.
Once the group was intact and ready, tunes were chosen and arrangements worked out in the studio. Mabern suggested Jimmy Smith’s juicy “T-Bone Steak” and Wes Montgomery’s boppish “Full House” to complement three originals by Alexander, Sergio Mendez’ seductive “So Many Stars” and the standards “Secret Love” and Matt Dennis / Tom Adair’s ode to despair, “Everything Happens to Me” (to these ears, the session’s apex). Farnsworth contributed the funky “Jennie’s Dance,” on which Mabern plays Fender Rhodes and Cranshaw electric bass, as they do on “Secret Love” and “Full House.” Alexander wrote the title song, which raises the album’s curtain, as well as the upbeat “Blues for Mo” and even snappier “Frenzy.”
While Mabern, Cranshaw and Farnsworth play their roles with enthusiasm and assurance, and Mabern is an especially engaging and perceptive soloist, it’s clear that they are essentially along for the ride, lending Alexander a broad canvas on which to paint his sharp and radiant sound-portraits. Alexander, for his part, is invariably eloquent and persuasive, reinforcing his stature as one of the jazz world’s most astute and accomplished tenor saxophonists. And that’s far more than a Second Impression.
1 Second Impression 06:20
2 So Many Stars 05:43
3 Blues for Mo 05:17
4 Jennie’s Dance 05:54
5 Secret Love 07:31
6 T-Bone Steak 06:06
7 Frenzy 06:00
8 Everything Happens to Me 06:34
9 Full House 05:21
Eric Alexander – tenor saxophone
Bob Cranshaw – bass
Harold Mabern – piano, Fender Rhodes
Joe Farnsworth – drums