(Eric Alexander, tenor sax; David Hazeltine, piano; John Webber, bass; Joe Farnsworth, drums)
Eric Alexander’s stock in the jazz community continues to rise. He has grown artistically past the stage of being considered a young lion any longer. By many, he is considered the best young mainstream tenor player under the age of 40. (Eric only turns 30 this year.) His recording output is prodigious, both as a first call sideman and more importantly as a recording leader. His CD issues have been primarily for Criss Cross and he also records as a founding member of One for All, the top “Jazz Messenger” type hard bop group recording today. He is also on the roster of the Japanese audiophile label, Venus Records.
Now recording for High Note, his latest release, Prime Time, combines a full length CD as well as a video DVD. Recorded live in April, 2007, in Asheville, North Carolina, the CD and DVD chronicle two separate sets from the performance. Five of the songs are the same titles on both the CD and DVD – Blues Like, One for Steve, Little Lucas, Pearls, and We All Love Eddie Harris, but as with any jazz compositions, the CD and DVD versions are different due to the improvisation talents of the quartet.
The program contains mostly originals by Eric or his pianist, David Hazeltine. Hazeltine is a first rate pianist and band leader and his recording output and talents rival Alexander.
The quartet can move easily from lyrical to hard bop and beyond effortlessly. The communication between band members seems symbiotic likely due to their considerable time playing together both as a quartet and on their cohorts’ individual projects. The confidence displayed by the quartet members whether comping for each other, or on their own solos, is awesome.
Many of the (then) young players on the Blue Note roster of the 1950s and 1960s showed the same maturity well beyond their chronological years. The same is found here with Eric and his quartet as well as with One for All. We now have our next generation of masters in the making and it is a pleasure to experience their ascendance. As our elderly jazz heroes pass on, it is reassuring to know that the future of jazz is in good hands. And did I say that they swing like mad…..
– Jeff Krow