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Wayne Escoffery: The Only Son of One

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These new releases offer two sides of the abundantly gifted, extremely confident tenor saxophonist Wayne Escoffery, who is fast becoming a force to be reckoned with. A longtime sideman to trumpeter Tom Harrell and a member of Ben Riley’s Monk Legacy band and the Mingus Big Band, Escoffery has developed a strong presence as a bandleader over the course of seven previous releases. His eighth, his debut for the Sunnyside label, is a major leap forward conceptually from 2009’s soulful organ-group outing, Uptown.

The Only Son of One traces Escoffery’s personal journey from his rough start in North London, where he was raised by a loving mother and her abusive Jamaican husband, to his emigration at age 8 to the United States, where he took up the saxophone and eventually came under the wing of Jackie McLean at the Hartt School of Music in Hartford. Escoffery’s composing here often alludes to a spiritual awakening.

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