Benjamin Drazen: Inner Flights

Native New Yorker and New England Conservatory grad Benjamin Drazen distinguishes himself as a potent alto saxophonist and accomplished composer on his debut as a leader. Joined by a solid group consisting of pianist Jon Davis, bassist Carlo De Rosa and drummer Eric McPherson, Drazen blows with conviction on swinging vehicles like the burning “Mr. Twilight” and the quote-filled “Monkish.” The saxophonist wails with soulful authority on “Jazz Heaven” and demonstrates a lilting, lyrical touch on the lovely “Neeney’s Waltz.” On Jimmy Van Heusen’s “Polka Dots and Moonbeams,” Drazen digs deep with full-bodied tones. And for pure, unadulterated burn, there’s a smoking rendition of George Gershwin’s “This Is New.”