Eric Alexander Quartet - Prime Time


Recorded Live at the Diana Wortham Theatre, Asheville NC on April 22nd 2007

Release date: March 4th 2008

Availability: CD+DVD, MP3 Download, iTunes

Prime Time cover

The Eric Alexander/ David Hazeltine / Joe Farnsworth collaboration has endured for over ten years, via the band One For All and numerous sessions with Eric Alexander or David Hazeltine as leader. So, remarkable then that this release - a CD and a DVD of an April 2007 concert in Asheville, North Carolina - captures them in a quartet setting sounding so fresh and involved.

The band - Eric Alexander (tenor sax), David Hazeltine (piano), John Webber (bass) and Joe Farnsworth (drums) - sets its store by being a traditional jazz quartet playing self composed, straight ahead mainstream jazz. In such a crowded and well worked format, everything depends on excellence and this performance does not dissapoint.

It is notable just how many of the themes from the Eric Alexander compositions - "Little Lucas" from the One For All album "Line Up" and from the Eric Alexander album "It's All In The Game", "Nemesis" from the exceptional "Nightlife In Tokyo" album or "One For Steve" from "Dead Center" are instantly recognizable, showing just how far this music has penetrated into the mainstream jazz consciousness.

Eric Alexander's sax playing shows a growing intensity that comes from not merely playing over these themes but finding new outlets within them. On the DVD he comes over with an undemonstrativeness that belies that intensity, a shake of the shoulders at the end of a particularly well worked blowing passage being as loose as he gets. The appeal is cerebral but immediate and powerful.

David Hazeltine, who contributes the compositions "Blues Like", "Pearls" and "We All Love Eddie Harris", plays a solid supporting role in keeping with the branding of the event as an outing of the Eric Alexander Quartet; his solos are well crafted and precise rather than effusive.

The Bernstein/Comden/Green standard "Some Other Time" offers a lyrical break amidst the self composed material.

On the DVD all the above tracks with the exception of the standard are covered in longer versions that allow for additional drum and bass solos. Three additional tracks are also featured, Eric Alexander's "Yasashiku" and "First Impression" together with Joe Farnsworth's "Prime Time" which furnishes the album title. As with the CD, DVD production values are excellent with very good sound fidelity.

This is a very enjoyable session with fine performances by some of the tightest and inventive musicians on the scene today. Highly recommended.

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Eric Alexander - Prime Time

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Anonymous said...

An exceptional date. Does it the old fashion way with a new approach. Keeps it real but hip. Right on for the now generation. CB

freddydwight said...

Eric does it "old school" with great mastery of his instrument. You can hear Sonny Rollins -- to whom Eric pays tribute on this album -- say, "That's it, my man. You can do it."