Eric Alexander is a master of hard-bop tenor saxophone whose work has been well documented on over 40 records as a leader. Leap of Faith comes as a shock. It unveils a new Alexander, one who lives on the edge: freer, rawer, more searching, more relentless.
One reason is the format. Only once before has Alexander recorded in a chordless trio. Here he is alone with bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Johnathan Blake. Other reasons have to do with Alexander’s new label and new producer/engineer. Giant Step Arts is a radical concept, a nonprofit dedicated to liberating artists from “sales chart expectations” and providing them with total creative freedom. The founder is Jimmy Katz, the renowned jazz photographer who is also a groundbreaking engineer, specializing in live recordings. Katz recorded Leap of Faith at the Jazz Gallery in New York. It captures the electricity, the juice, of a hot night in a club with the sonic resolution usually achievable only in the best studios.