Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Wayne Escoffery - Uptown (Posi-Tone, 2009)

Tenor Saxophonist and composer Wayne Escoffery has slowly been building a fine resume, both as a leader and a sideman with the likes of the Mingus Big Band and trumpeter Tom Harrell. On this album, he leads a hard swinging band with Avi Rothbard on guitar Gary Versace on organ and Jason Brown on drums. "No Desert" opens the album with an uptempo organ groove and boppish saxophone. Escoffery solos with great dexterity and speed. After a fluid guitar solo with organ and drums, saxophone returns to lead the tune out. "Cross Bronx" has a bright, up-tempo feel led by brisk and hard edged tenor saxophone. There is some fast and agile full band improvisation that is polished and exciting. "You Know I Care" is a lush ballad with nice, patient saxophone soloing over full, rich organ sound. Rothbard steps out with a well paced solo, reminiscent of Grant Green in its phrasing. The group builds in some R&B elements on a few songs, "Nu Soul" and "Easy Now," but the music stays firm and swinging, incorporating these elements well. This was a well done album, easily recommendable to fans of the modern mainstream. The organ - tenor combination is an enjoyable one, and the musicians make the best of it on this album. Uptown - amazon.com

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