ERIC ALEXANDER QUARTET
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Eric Alexander is the best there is in today's market of tenor saxophonists.
"Prime Time" is a fine example of why the advantages of recording a performance in front of a live audience are risky at best. The sound is balanced and hearing these cats blow from a set of speakers is like a front row seat in an auditorium. This is even more true while viewing the accompanying DVD.
The CD begins with Alexander blowing strongly on "Blues Like." His tone is down where it should be, in the tenor range, where real tenors are supposed to be. One way to describe the library of Alexander's work is to point out his consistency. He is not hit or miss. He's just always excellent.
His band mates are tried and true having worked together off and on for many years. Pianist David Hazeltine seems to be his worthy number one choice. Bassist John Webber and drummer Joe Farnsworth complete the rhythm section.
Hazeltine, excellent on every track, is magnificent on "Little Lucas," a swinging post bop tune. It's a Hazeltine-Alexander duo treatment on "Some Other Time," a pretty ballad with interesting solos by both musicians. Alexander evokes the late tenor giant Eddie Harris with a great salute on "We All Love Eddie Harris."
"THE LOST '40s & '50s MASTERS": PEGGY LEE
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I remember taking a trip in the 1970s to San Francisco just to see one of my all time favorite singers, Peggy Lee, at the Fairmount Hotel. It was worth it too.
This two-CD release of 39 tracks serves as an excellent refresher course on basic Peggy Lee. She surprises with the first cut, "Ain't Goin' No Place" with her heavy authentic blues phrasing and emotion. She follows with a heretofore-unreleased "Cottage for Sale." Lee is enchanting on "A Hundred Years From Today," a wistful, thoughtful ballad that adds a certain perspective to life.
One of the reasons this album is so special is the total lack of standards. Her material therefore has a core of freshness making each song her very own.
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Twenty-eight years ago, when pianist George Cables recorded this live outing at the Keystone Corner, he was not the pianist he is today.
During the interim 28 years, Cables has reached the upper echelons of living pianists and for a time his life hung in balance. He has recently recovered from life-saving surgery. But even 28 years ago, he had considerable chops. One hearing of his unaccompanied solo version of "Who Can I Turn To" promises great things to come.
Trumpeter-psychiatrist, Dr. Eddie Henderson is the major other voice on this release. The consummate pro is always swinging and sensitive in the right places.
Dick Bogle hosts a weekly jazz radio show Mondays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 89.1 FM KMHD. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.