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Bebop - Released September 9, 2016 | HighNote Records

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Bebop - Released September 22, 2017 | HighNote Records

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Saxophonist Eric Alexander's improvisational skills have only grown deeper since he burst onto the scene in the early '90s. Blessed with a rounded tone and impressive technical chops, Alexander has long carried on the swinging, acoustic jazz tradition with a sound informed by such icons as Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane, and Sonny Rollins. Less remarked upon is just how inventive and surprising his version of straight-ahead acoustic jazz can be. With his superb 2017 effort, the Latin-infused Song of No Regrets, he reveals this inventive side, offering up a set of groove-based anthems, inspired in part by the buoyant '60s pop of Sergio Mendes. Joining him here are a cadre of longtime associates in pianist David Hazeltine, bassist John Webber, and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Also augmenting these largely Latin-tinged arrangements are percussionist Alex Diaz and trumpet titan Jon Faddis. What's particularly compelling about Alexander's approach here is how he marries the bubbly Brazilian pop of Mendes' Brasil '66 band with his own kinetic, post-bop style. It's a balance he strikes throughout Song of No Regrets, applying his searching, muscular jazz flow to not only the Mendes-penned title track ballad, but also to the fiery opener "But Here's the Thing" and his intense take on Jorge Ben's bossa nova classic "Mas Que Nada" (also made famous by Mendes). Alexander also works a similarly ingenious magic on Stevie Wonder's "These Three Words," reworking the midtempo '90s R&B groover into a soulful, afterglow-ready instrumental featuring Faddis on Harmon-muted lead. Elsewhere, he dives into the boogaloo-heavy "Boom Zoom," and dims the lights to a sultry, dreamy haze on the languid ballad "Corazon Perdido." ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released May 27, 2011 | HighNote Records

Eric Alexander has been fortunate to record often as a bandleader since he emerged on the jazz scene, with over 30 CDs to his credit in less than two decades. But one of the biggest challenges facing any jazz musician is to constantly expand his repertoire without rehashing the familiar standards and timeless jazz vehicles. Working with his frequent collaborators, including pianist Harold Mabern (his former teacher, who has played on a number of Alexander's recordings), bassist Nat Reeves, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, Alexander asked them to suggest songs to go along with those he chose. How many musicians would think of transforming "Cavatina from 'The Deer Hunter'" into a viable jazz setting? The tenor saxophonist did, and delivers a breezy performance with his big tone soaring with the driving rhythm section. Mabern suggested "Footsteps" (which first appeared on a smooth jazz album), but it evolves into something very different in the quartet's hands, reborn as brisk hard bop vehicle with a slight touch of Latin, with potent solos by both Alexander and the pianist. Jazz bassist Bill Lee's melancholy "Don't Follow the Crowd" is an overlooked gem, a lush ballad that is perfect for Alexander's lyrical solo. The one widely familiar song is Henry Mancini's "Charade" (the theme from a delightful Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn mystery film), the quartet embellishes this tasty waltz with just the right seasoning. Alexander also brought two originals to the date, including his infectious "Nomor Senterbress," a sizzling hard bop cooker, along with peppy "Remix Blues." Eric Alexander remains one of the greats of his generation as he continues his musical exploration with the outstanding Don't Follow the Crowd. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released September 3, 2004 | HighNote Records

Recalling the moody and atmospheric mid-to-late-'60s work of fellow reedmen Wayne Shorter and Hank Mobley, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander's Dead Center has a reflective quality that lends itself to such timely compositions as McCoy Tyner's "Search for Peace." It also reveals Alexander's lithe and gentle touch on standards including "Almost Like Being in Love," while lesser known works like Herbie Hancock's "Sonrisa" showcase his deft harmonic invention and superb rhythmic sense. Similarly, pianist Harold Mabern's groove-oriented "A Few Miles From Memphis" is propelled along by drummer Joe Farnsworth's soul-inflected beat with Alexander nudging lines back and forth deep inside the rhythm pocket. While not a significant departure from his past work, Dead Center nonetheless finds Alexander revealing himself as a grounded and muscular improviser who never takes his eye off the target. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released August 21, 2015 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2000 | Fantasy Records

Although Alexander has had stuff released on Milestone previously, this is actually his first album recorded specifically for the label (the others were licensed from Japan's Alfa label). So it isn't a debut per se, but no matter. Not the least of the CDs attractions are the three Alexander compositions front-loaded at the top, winners all. Indeed, the disc gets off to a flying, propulsive start with a tune ironically entitled "Stand Pat," -- which of course refers to the album's sometime guest guitarist Pat Martino, who proceeds to slow the pace way down for his solo. "34 Was Sweetness," written as a remembrance of the late football running back Walter Payton, is sweetness itself, a very good tune, as is Alexander's title tune. John Williams's "The Towering Inferno" gets a surprisingly swinging outing, and the Strouse/Adams showtune "Night Song" contains a memorable piano riff for Harold Mabern. "The Phineas Trane" tries to make a concept piece out of a train pulling into the station before settling for some straight-ahead grooving with Martino in full cry. With Peter Washington (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums) setting the pace, this is an excellent mainstream session in the Todd Barkan-produced style, where Alexander's husky, commanding tenor sax is developing into a heavyweight contender in that crowded field. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Fantasy Records

Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander is reunited with his former teacher Harold Mabern on this outstanding studio session. The young man's talent has grown immensely since his 1992 debut as a leader, developing a distinct sound that doesn't overly rely on any one influence. The opener "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" (from Fiddler on the Roof) is hardly a jazz standard, but the imaginative arrangement by Alexander and Mabern may prompt others to explore it as well. The emotional rendition of "Moment to Moment" is another joint collaboration between the two. Trumpeter Jim Rotundi sits in during several numbers, including Mabern's "The Man From Hyde Park" (a snappy reworking of "The Song Is You"), Alexander's hypnotic samba "Luna Naranja," and the leader's "The Cliffs of Asturias," which sounds as if it was influenced by the early compositions of Herbie Hancock. The rhythm section includes bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth. This very impressive date is highly recommended. ~ Ken Dryden
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Bebop - Released August 15, 2000 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 1998 | Fantasy Records

This CD appears under the listing of tenorman Eric Alexander only as a matter of alphabetical convenience, for he is in fact co-billed with pianist John Hicks, bassist George Mraz and drummer Idris Muhammad in this re-creation of a Prestige leaderless date. Anticipating Prestige's 50th anniversary in 1999, producer Todd Barkan combed the files to find out which were the label's most successful records and then, with Hicks, chose nine songs -- not all of which are in the Prestige catalog, by the way -- for this generation-spanning hard bop quartet to purvey. Alexander serves straight-up, direct, honest emotion on Fred Lacey's "Theme for Ernie," and gets a bit lost on Miles Davis' "Four" before extracting himself neatly, and also does a nice job with the theme of Sonny Clark's "My Conception," an ironic title given that the opening bars (and a few other besides) clearly provided the basis for Bill Evans' famous "Waltz for Debby." Vibist Joe Locke sits in for Alexander on "Fire Waltz"; trumpeter Jim Rotondi joins the front line (but doesn't solo) on "Little Melonae" and "Straight Street," and a relaxed Hicks takes on Monk's "Light Blue" alone. Nothing startling here, but fans of uncompromising modern hard bop will definitely enjoy this. ~ Richard S. Ginell
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Jazz - Released January 1, 2003 | Fantasy Records

First off, while its title might suggest otherwise, this is not a live album; the CD takes its name from a piece by Eric Alexander's pianist, the veteran Harold Mabern. This is a fitting gesture, as Mabern is a key to this session's many pleasures and has been a mentor to Alexander during the saxophonist's steady rise to the top ranks of his art form. For this December 2002 session, Alexander offers a sustained program of fresh, creative, and advanced hard bop that unequivocally establishes him as a player who is not only fully aware of the tradition, but who is now among those most eminently qualified to develop it further. The consistent high quality of the outing is, naturally, a measure of the cohesion and communication within Alexander's crack quartet. Mabern fuels the performances with a driving, spacious melodicism. Drummer Joe Farnsworth, another Alexander regular, combines crisp precision and flawless creative instincts behind the drum kit. To the session's credit, bassist Ron Carter is not on hand as a special guest, but as a completely integrated member of the rhythm team. He combines especially well with Farnsworth, with playing that is agile, powerful, rich, and vivid. Alexander is a source of endlessly imaginative choruses. Listeners will detect some of George Coleman's incendiary sleight of hand, Wayne Shorter's sidelong phrasing, and Joe Henderson's trenchant, amiable authority in the leader's highly evolved command of the horn. They will also hear Alexander's talent for writing; the five memorable hard bop originals he presents here are destined to become modern classics. ~ Jim Todd
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Bebop - Released August 16, 2005 | HighNote Records

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Contemporary Jazz - Released January 1, 1993 | Delmark Records

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Bebop - Released February 26, 2013 | HighNote Records

Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander delivers his first album of all ballads with 2013's Touching. Once again working with his longtime cohorts -- pianist Harold Mabern, bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth -- Alexander has crafted a bluesy, soulful, and romantic album that, while soft in conception, is in no way smooth. Alexander is a long avowed straight-ahead jazz stylist and Touching is no exception. Here, he plays in his own no-nonsense way, often with limited embellishment on the melody lines and always with a muscular sense of rhythm and swing when soloing. What is also pleasing is that Mabern and Alexander have chosen a handful of lesser-performed songs. Here, we get songs like pianist Bobby Lyle's gorgeous "Touching," which was inspired by Stanley Turrentine's version of his 1975 album Have You Ever Seen the Rain?, as well as superb takes of Michael Jackson's "Gone Too Soon," John Coltrane's "Central Park West," and "The Way She Makes Me Feel," from the Yentl soundtrack. Ultimately, Touching is a steamy album, with just enough classy restraint to make it a perfect accompaniment for any stylish afterglow. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released September 29, 2009 | HighNote Records

It isn't hard to understand why Eric Alexander has employed acoustic pianist Harold Mabern on more than a few of his albums. The big-toned tenor saxophonist has enjoyed a strong rapport with his former teacher, and that rapport is very much in evidence on Revival of the Fittest. Alexander employs Mabern on almost every song on this 2009 recording; the exception is Alexander's contemplative "Yasashiku (Gently)," which finds Alexander performing a tenor/piano duet with Mike LeDonne. But Alexander features Mabern on every other track, and the two of them form a cohesive acoustic quartet with bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth. One has high expectations when Alexander and Mabern get together; they don't let us down on a hard bop/post-bop CD that ranges from inspired performances of George Coleman's "Revival," Ivan Lins' "The Island," and Michel Legrand's "You Must Believe in Spring" to two Mabern pieces that the pianist previously recorded on albums of his own (the driving "Too Late Fall Back Baby" and the Phineas Newborn, Jr.-dedicated "Blues for Phineas"). Ballads have long been one of Alexander's strong points, and he reminds us how expressive a ballad player he can be on Marvin Fisher's "Love-Wise" (which Nat King Cole made famous with a Nelson Riddle-arranged recording in 1958). Alexander's performance of "Love-Wise" recalls John Coltrane's hard bop period of the late ‘50s, when he was recording for Prestige; Trane gave us some delightfully lyrical recordings of ballads during his pre-Atlantic period (including "Stardust," "Lush Life," and "Invitation"), and Alexander acknowledges Prestige-era Trane on "Love-Wise" but does so without allowing his own personality to become obscured. Revival of the Fittest is yet another example of how rewarding an Alexander album can be when Mabern is on board. ~ Alex Henderson
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Jazz - Released April 30, 2013 | Music Mecca

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2002 | Fantasy Records

This strong set documents the continuing and developing ties between Alexander and Harold Mabern; as the saxophonist unleashes his full-bodied, Coltrane-like tone on a set of originals and unlikely standards, Mabern's restless support unifies and galvanizes the rhythm section. At times, the pianist is a little too busy; there are passages in, for example, "There but for the Grace of..." where he might have laid out for a while, especially to give air to the segue between solos by Alexander and guest trumpeter Nicholas Payton. And repetitious left-hand comps during his solos nearly derail the band's sprightly 3/4 rendition of "A House Is Not a Home" and the choruses in the blazing "Something's Got to Give." Still, almost every detail throughout the rest of the album fits into a pattern of potent swing, even at the difficult medium-slow tempo taken on "This Girl's in Love With You" (the only track on the album that showcases the saxophonist exclusively as a soloist). Consistently assured improvisations from both Alexander and Payton provide the final touch necessary for the success of this session. ~ Robert L. Doerschuk
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Bebop - Released April 25, 2014 | HighNote Records

Recorded at the storied Rudy Van Gelder Studios in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, Eric Alexander's 2014 effort, Chicago Fire, finds the tenor saxophonist paying tribute to the city that helped shape his sound and career. Having studied with pianist and Chicago native Harold Mabern while at William Patterson College, Alexander established himself in the Windy City after graduating in the early '90s. He has worked with Mabern ever since and their mutual love and musical synergy is palpable here. Also backing Alexander are his longtime compatriots bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Trumpeter and High Note labelmate Jeremy Pelt also joins in on several cuts. As with all of Alexander's output, Chicago Fire is a no-nonsense set of original and cover songs that showcases his passionate, swinging, straight-ahead jazz sound. ~ Matt Collar
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Bebop - Released August 24, 2007 | HighNote Records

Ever since he first began to be noticed in 1992, Eric Alexander has developed into one of the giants of the tenor sax. He is not an avant-garde trailblazer; nor are there scores of saxophonists who sound like his clones. But Alexander has developed his own sound within the areas of hard bop to post-bop; he gives the impression that he can sound confident and very credible in any setting, and he has yet to make an unworthy recording. He has led at least 20 CD recordings since his emergence, with Temple of Olympic Zeus being one of his best. The middle of the CD, where Alexander performs a lyrical version of "Some Other Time" and a hard-swinging "Blues for David," features some of his finest playing. Four selections add the fiery trumpet of Jim Rotondi, who is a particularly suitable match with Alexander. Pianist David Hazeltine sounds inspired throughout this outing and bassist Nat Reeves and drummer Joe Farnsworth are stimulating and supportive. But the main star is Eric Alexander, a brilliant improviser who deserves much more recognition for invigorating jazz's modern mainstream. ~ Scott Yanow
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Bebop - Released March 10, 2006 | HighNote Records

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Jazz - Released January 1, 2001 | Music Mecca