Eric Alexander: Dead Center

Soon after his appearance on Snidero’s recording, Eric Alexander taped an album of his own with pianist Harold Mabern, drummer Joe Farnsworth and bassist John Webber. In contrast to that earlier recording, Dead Center (HighNote) features compositions from a number of sources, including the leader’s own blues (“One for Steve”) and one by Mabern (“A Few Miles From Memphis”), two standards and tunes by Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner and Pat Martino. “I Could Have Danced All Night” starts as a lilting waltz before shifting to one of the fastest straightahead 4/4s imaginable, while the quasiclassical, mini-recital coda to Sammy Cahn’s “It’s Magic” provides an unexpected treat. A particularly ear-catching moment occurs with the realization that the solos on “Almost Like Being in Love” sound surprisingly like variations on “Giant Steps.” On tunes like the aforementioned barnburner he demonstrates an astounding technical agility, while on ballads like “It’s Magic” he exhibits a remarkable tonal control.