ERIC ALEXANDER, TOUCHING


Back in 1991, saxophonist Eric Alexander competed against Chris Potter and Joshua Redman in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, where he came in second and launched his recording career the same year with Straight Up (Delmark.) Thirty-three solo albums later, this astonishingly prolific straight-ahead musician slows things down for a particularly enriching sonic experience entitled Touching (HighNote.) Over the years, Alexander has recorded dates with great jazz pianists (Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, John Hicks) but none has proved to be as valuable as Harold Mabern, an intuitive two-fisted musical force with an appealing lyrical style.

As a ballad album, Touching is flush with unexpected charm helped along by the leader’s first-rate quartet that also includes bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth. The tunes are not heard all that often – Bobby Lyle’s title track originally appeared on a Stanley Turrentine album – and despite this being an all-ballads program, the quartet zeroes in on the innate soulfulness within each tune. While the highlight is inevitably Coltrane’s beautiful “Central Park West” the album showcases an astute and highly musical band that brings a refined sense of swing to every track. Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder, Touching sounds perfect, the music sublime. (8 tracks; 49 minutes)

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JAZZ IN SPACE: ERIC ALEXANDER, TOUCHING

Monday, April 1, 2013

ERIC ALEXANDER, TOUCHING


Back in 1991, saxophonist Eric Alexander competed against Chris Potter and Joshua Redman in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, where he came in second and launched his recording career the same year with Straight Up (Delmark.) Thirty-three solo albums later, this astonishingly prolific straight-ahead musician slows things down for a particularly enriching sonic experience entitled Touching (HighNote.) Over the years, Alexander has recorded dates with great jazz pianists (Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, John Hicks) but none has proved to be as valuable as Harold Mabern, an intuitive two-fisted musical force with an appealing lyrical style.

As a ballad album, Touching is flush with unexpected charm helped along by the leader’s first-rate quartet that also includes bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth. The tunes are not heard all that often – Bobby Lyle’s title track originally appeared on a Stanley Turrentine album – and despite this being an all-ballads program, the quartet zeroes in on the innate soulfulness within each tune. While the highlight is inevitably Coltrane’s beautiful “Central Park West” the album showcases an astute and highly musical band that brings a refined sense of swing to every track. Engineered by Rudy Van Gelder, Touching sounds perfect, the music sublime. (8 tracks; 49 minutes)

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