One For All: Live at Smoke, Volume 1

There’s one major light source on Live at Smoke Vol. 1 (Criss Cross), the latest release from One for All. That’s the radiant aura of Art Blakey, who pioneered this brand of driving hard-bop with his Jazz Messengers a half-century ago. The modern counterpart heard here consists of musicians vested not only in that era but in most of the jazz mainstream since. Eric Alexander is an exemplary representative of his generation of tenormen; he balances his considerable Coltrane affinities with doses of Dexter Gordon and bits of Benny Golson. And for every blinding blue streak, he’s got a purely melodic moment; compare his flaming hoop on “The Lonely Ones” to his tender essay “Dedicated to You.” Trumpeter Jim Rotondi and trombonist Steve Davis augment Alexander’s choruses with their own sharp and sensible inventions, and the solid rhythm section (pianist David Hazeltine, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth) achieves a process that’s straightforward but far from stale.

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen

Nate Chinen is the director of editorial content for WBGO and a longtime contributor to JazzTimes, which published 125 installments of his column “The Gig” between 2004 and 2017. For 12 years, he was a critic for The New York Times; prior to that, he wrote about jazz for the Village Voice, the Philadelphia City Paper, and several other publications. He is the author of Playing Changes: Jazz for the New Century (2018) and the co-author of George Wein’s autobiography Myself Among Others: A Life in Music (2003).