Thursday, May 19, 2011

MIDDLE AGE BLUES

Like his peers Tim Warfield, Joshua Redmond, Craig Handy, and James Carter, Eric Alexander is a middle age saxophonist now. Being that hasn’t changed Alexander’s playing one bit. Alexander remains an eager improviser, which Alexander proved on a string of fantastic jazz albums Prime Time, The Battle and Revival of the Fittest.

Revival of the Fittest was Alexander’s last album and was a fan favorite, leaving. fans wondering what Alexander had planned for a follow up. Last month, High Note Records ended the suspense making public Alexander’s new album Don’t Follow the Crowd, covers of some noted pop songs and songs written for films.

Pianist Harold Mabern had a big influence on Don't Follow the Crowd. Mabern convinced Alexander to record Cavatina from the Deer Hunter, Charade and Shaft’s Big Score!. Then Mabern supported Alexander throughout the album like a fitness trainer. Alexander's other staff members bassist Nat Reeves, and drummer Joe Farnsworth were helpful as well, giving Cavatina from the Deer Hunter, Charade, and Shaft's Big Score!—songs written for film—more curb appeal.

In his career, Mabern has backed some influential jazz saxophonists such as Frank Strozier and George Coleman, Alexander’s role model. Mabern never crossed or upstaged Alexander. On Nomor Senterbress and Footsteps, Mabern surveyed the land before Alexander took off on an improvisational expedition.

Remix Blues and She’s Out of My Life stood out the most on Don’t Follow the Crowd. Pop icon Michael Jackson made famous She’s Out of My Life. Alexander kept the song’s gloomy disposition. Farnsworth and Reeves were most aggressive on Don’t Misunderstand, and  Remix Blues.

With Don’t Follow the Crowd, Alexander proves—not that he had to prove anything—middle age hasn’t diminished his skills one bit.
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