Monday, October 26, 2009

Eric Alexander - Revival of the Fittest (High Note, 2009)

Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander is one of the busiest musicians on the mainstream scene, recording many albums as a leader and a sideman. On this album he confidently charges into the fray again, aided by Harold Mabern on piano, Nat Reeves on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. His strong and agile tone recalls Dexter Gordon and Gene Ammons and is well suited to this collection of standards and bluesy originals, and it makes for a pleasant listening experience. The album opens briskly with "Revival" where Alexander solos strongly over nice melodic accompaniment by his frequent collaborator Mabern. "Too Late Fall Back Baby" is one of the album's highlights, with the nice relaxed blues feeling creating the prefect setting for a string of well constructed solos. "Blues For Phineas" is an admirable tribute to the often overlooked pianist, Phineas Newborn. After Mabern sets the mood with a genial opening, Alexander comes in and delivers a patient and powerful solo steeped in the Memphis tradition that Newborn came from. The standard "You Must Believe In Spring" gets a slight Latin makeover that emphasizes the rhythmic aspects of the song and makes for an interesting performance. The bonus track "Yasashiku (Gently)" is a mid-tempo improvised collaboration between Alexander and pianist Mike LeDonne. I liked the relaxed atmosphere of this album, the musicians were familiar with the material and with each other. Fans of modern mainstream hard bop will find a lot to enjoy in this record.
Revival of the Fittest -

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