Monday, April 1, 2013

Alexander's Ballads; Winkler's Nyro Songbook - Bob Stewart

It may have been Charlie Parker's alto that first brought the saxophone into the elite jazz club previously occupied by the trumpet, piano and drums but today it's certainly the tenor sax that has equaled them in popularity and, in many ways, become the 'glory instrument'. Thought of as hard driving and masculine thank to the pioneering work of Trane and others of his ilk, the instrument also has a softer side and is perfectly suited to rendering tunes at a slower tick of the metronome with sensitivity and tenderness. Eric Alexander makes his first foray into the hallowed halls of the 'ballad record' with "Touching" -- joining the ranks of such tenor balladeers as Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Dexter Gordon and countless others.

"Mark Winkler discovers what Miles Davis, Roy Ayers and Carmen McRae knew back in the '60s, that Laura Nyro wrote great songs, and he makes them hip all over again," according to Brett Fox of LA Jazz Scene. Going where no one has gone before, singer Winkler tackles the songbook the legendary '60s and '70s icon on The "Laura Nyro Project"  featuring arrangements by Eli Bruegemann, current musical director of for "Saturday Night Live," and jazz heavy hitters Eric Reed, Anthony Wilson, Bob Sheppard, Larry Koonse, Cheryl Bentyne, and even the Mills Brothers. Winkler covers Nyro's more well-known tunes and some choice album tracks, revisiting her songs that are melting pots of jazz, pop and soul and taking them to the 'jazz' side.

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