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David Hazeltine: The Classic Trio Meets Eric Alexander

This album has the feeling of an arranged, solid blowing session from the ’60s. It is the third by pianist David Hazeltine’s Classic Trio with bassist Peter Washington and veteran drummer Louis Hayes. In guest Eric Alexander, the CD boasts perhaps jazz’s hottest young tenor saxophonist. (Alexander, Hazeltine and Washington have been playing together since 1995 as members of the sextet One for All.)

Hazeltine’s style is bop-based and marked by a strong sense of pacing and linear development-shades of Barry Harris. His ensemble voicings with Alexander are full and attractive. The album includes two of his originals: the opening “On the Boulevard” (a strutting minor-key head) and the warm, grooving “Jessica’s Night.” The trio’s ability to cohere rhythmically recalls the classic Hayes-Joe Zawinul-Sam Jones rhythm section of Cannonball Adderley or the Wynton Kelly-Paul Chambers-Jimmy Cobb team behind Miles Davis.

Alexander’s supple phrasing and smooth harmonic connections make his solos fly effortlessly. His tone and clear solo direction sometimes suggest Dexter Gordon and Jimmy Heath. From the burning bop of Tadd Dameron’s “Our Delight” to the transformed pop music sound of Stevie Wonder’s “Knocks Me Off My Feet” the saxophonist lives up to his fast-growing reputation.

Originally Published