Monday, August 26, 2013

Eric Alexander - Blues at Midnight (Venus Jazz, 2013)

This is a fine and accessible mainstream jazz album under the leadership of tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander in the company of the great pianist Harold Mabern, Nat Reeves on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums. Mabern is nearly a co-leader on this release, as his playing whether as an accompanist or soloist is stellar throughout and he receives several sparkling solo opportunities.  The band plays a romping selection of blues, hard-bop and ballads, beginning with “Sayonara Blues” a fast paced performance where everyone gets a chance to air out their instruments. The Gene Ammons nod “Hittin’ the Jug” is a perfect vehicle for Alexander who shares the same huge tone as the great saxophonist.  Maybern is also well represented on this track as well as the following standard “Willow Weep For Me.” Bobby Timmons’ “Dis Here” is tailor made for him as well, and Mabern responds with a ripe and full-bodied solo. Alexander is inspired as well, developing a well articulated tenor saxophone solo. “Caribe” has a nicely upbeat and danceable feel, focused on bracing swing from the rhythm section and a strong deep toned tenor saxophone interlude. Blues at Midnight -

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