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Eric Alexander Quartet - June 14, 2014

After the “Uptown Family Swing" gig I went back to chill in my room, because in a couple of hours I would be out to see another show. I had a ticket to see the Eric Alexander Quartet at Smoke (on Broadway at 105th St.). So after getting off the train at 125th St. I stopped in a convenience store and bought myself a tall boy. Back in the room I tried to figure out the best way to get there. I decided to take the local B train down to 103rd Street and walk the several blocks between there and the club.

Instead of eating in a restaurant I thought maybe I’ll just get a slice of pizza and save a little money. (I ate quite a few slices during this trip!). I got a slice to go and ate it while walking down the sidewalk. When I was finished I was about ready to throw the greasy paper plate into a trashcan on a corner when a rat came scampering out of the miscellaneous rubbish, startling me. At first I thought it was a squirrel. (I heard the New York City rats are smarter than their country cousins.)

My ticket was for the 10:30 show; as usual I was over-cautious and arrived at the venue (“Smoke”) at about 10:05. So I went to a bar down the street and had a couple of Stella Artois’s and divided my attention between the soccer game on the TV screen and the patrons’ billiard battles.

As soon as I got to the venue, I was seated at the bar immediately, next to some shaved-headed guy to my left. For some reason, I just didn’t like this guy. He struck me as a guy with a lot of money, who was probably a boss or supervisor of some sort, perhaps a lawyer, I just got the vibe from him (and from his conversations with the bartender) that he was used to being the man. But if we’re sitting at a bar listening to jazz, we’re all equal, regardless of our money or our power. Yes? I could be all wrong; maybe he is the sweetest cat out there, but that was my feeling.

Alexander plays in the hard bop style; almost every tune he did was hard driving and intense. He has great chops and strikes me as a sort of mischievous type. Although I hardly recognized any of the tunes, I very much enjoyed the show; perhaps a bit short on nuance, but heavy on the swing. The quartet:

Eric Alexander – tenor sax
Harold Mabern – piano
John Webber – bass
Joe Farnsworth – drums

Shortly after the gig started, special guest Steve Davis arrived with his trombone. One of the highlights for me was the interplay and harmonization between Alexander and Davis. While I’m not completely head over heels about trombone solos, I love the sound of the instrument in an ensemble setting.

They played maybe only one ballad during the evening. For an encore, Davis called “Blue Trane.”

Photos here.

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