Boasting a warm, finely burnished tone and a robust melodic and
harmonic imagination, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander has been
exploring new musical worlds from the outset. He started out on piano as
a six-year-old, took up clarinet at nine, switched to alto sax when he
was 12, and converted to tenor when jazz became his obsession during his
one year at the University of Indiana, Bloomington (1986-87).
William Paterson College in New Jersey he advanced his studies under the
tutelage of Harold Mabern, Joe Lovano, Rufus Reid, and others. "The
people I listened to in college are still the cats that are influencing
me today," says Alexander. "Monk, Dizzy, Sonny Stitt, Clifford Brown,
Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson--the legacy left by Bird and
all the bebop pioneers, that language and that feel, that's the bread
and butter of everything I do. George Coleman remains a big influence
because of his very hip harmonic approach, and I'm still listening all
the time to Coltrane because I feel that even in the wildest moments of
his mid- to late-Sixties solos I can find these little kernels of
melodic information and find ways to employ them in my own playing."
During the 1990s, after placing second behind Joshua Redman in the
1991 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, Alexander
threw himself into the whirlwind life of a professional jazz musician.
He played with organ trios on the South Side of Chicago, made his
recording debut in 1991 with Charles Earland on Muse Records, and cut his
first album as leader in 1992 (Straight Up for Delmark). More recordings
followed for numerous labels, including Milestone and others, leading to
1997's Man with a Horn; the 1998 collaborative quartet session with George
Mraz, John Hicks, and Idris Muhammad, Solid!; and, that same year, the first
recording by One For All, Alexander's ongoing band with Jim Rotondi,
Steve Davis, Joe Farnsworth, Peter Washington, and Dave Hazeltine.
Eric has appeared in many capacities on record, including leader, sideman,
producer as well as composing a number of the tunes he records. By now,
Alexander has lost count of how many albums feature his playing; he guesses
60 or 70. While he has garnered critical acclaim from every corner, what has
mattered most has been to establish his own voice within the illustrious
bop-based jazz tradition.
In 2004, Eric signed an exclusive
contract with the New York-based independent jazz label, HighNote Records
where he has amassed a considerable discography of critically-acclaimed
recordings. Most recent among them is “Temple of Olympic Zeus” (HCD 7172),
“The Battle” with Vincent Herring and Mike LeDonne (HCD 7137) and “It’s all
in the Game” (HCD 7148) with Harold Mabern.
Eric continues to tour the
world over to capacity audiences. Using NYC as his home base he can
regularly be seen in the NY clubs including ongoing appearances at Smoke.