Eric Alexander, Timing Is Everything Review

Eric Alexander’s Timing Is Everything: Impeccable Timing in Contemporary Jazz Elegance


Eric Alexander, Timing Is Everything Review

Eric Alexander’s Timing Is Everything: Impeccable Timing in Contemporary Jazz Elegance

by Nolan Debuke

Eric-Alexander-The-Jazz-Word-CDEric Alexander’s latest release, Timing Is Everything, epitomizes the intersection of technical mastery and emotive melodic depth. This nine-track album showcases Alexander’s robust melodic and harmonic imagination and combines an ensemble of accomplished musicians to create a vibrant sound of contemporary jazz based on hard bop. From the nuanced elegance of “After the Rain” to the lively interplay in “Big G’s Monk,” this album is a testament to Alexander’s enduring influence and artistic evolution—a must-listen for jazz enthusiasts and a significant addition to Alexander’s discography.

Alexander’s journey from a piano-playing six-year-old to a tenor saxophonist of international repute is a narrative of relentless exploration and dedication. His early influences, from bebop pioneers like Monk and Dizzy to the avant-garde explorations of Coltrane, are evident in the rich, harmonic language that pervades Timing Is Everything. The album title itself speaks to Alexander’s philosophy of music and life, where the precision of timing in jazz parallels the careful management of one’s life moments.

Timing Is Everything weaves together elements of hard bop, modal jazz, and contemporary jazz, creating an innovative soundscape rooted in tradition. The album’s eclectic mix ranges from the introspective ballad “But Beautiful” to the Afro-Caribbean-inspired “Sasquatch,” showcasing Alexander’s ability to blend diverse musical influences seamlessly.

Joining Alexander is Rick Germanson on piano. Known for his fluid improvisational style and harmonic creativity, Germanson’s contributions are pivotal in tracks like “After the Rain” and “Misty.” Alexander Claffy is an emerging bass talent. Claffy’s rhythmic precision and melodic sensibility shine through, particularly in the intricate “Sasquatch.” Jason Tiemann is on drums. Tiemann’s dynamic drumming, with its blend of power and subtlety, anchors the ensemble, driving the rhythmic complexity in pieces like “Big G’s Monk.” Stan Wetering guests on tenor saxophone, his chemistry with Alexander adds a compelling layer to “Big G’s Monk.” Jed Paradies (flute) and Rale Micic (guitar) contribute to “Serenade To A Cuckoo,” bringing a unique timbral quality, enriching the album’s textural palette. Alma Micic (voice): Her vocal performance on “Evergreen” adds a layer of emotional depth and lyrical beauty, seamlessly blending jazz inflections with a pop classic.

“After the Rain” opens the album as a heartfelt tribute to John Coltrane, setting a contemplative tone with Eric Alexander’s warm and lyrical playing. Alexander’s saxophone weaves an intricate narrative, supported by Alexander Claffy and Jason Tiemann, who create a textured rhythmic backdrop. Rick Germanson’s fluid piano solo adds layers of elegance, making this track an excellent introduction that feels joyous, intellectual, and exciting.

“But Beautiful” follows with Germanson’s solo piano introduction, transitioning seamlessly into Alexander’s lyrical and flowing performance. Alexander’s solo builds with a sense of narrative development, showcasing his exceptional storytelling ability through improvisation. The track’s relaxed, intimate, and introspective nature invites listeners into a deeply personal musical journey.

In “Serenade To A Cuckoo,” Paradies joins on flute and Micic on guitar, delivering a light and buoyant swing. Alexander’s saxophone solo masterfully blends bop sophistication with bluesy, melodic, post-bop vibes, creating a happy, toe-tapping, fun, engaging, and entertaining atmosphere.

“Big G’s Monk” is an up-tempo swing number featuring Wetering on tenor saxophone. The dynamic interplay and chemistry between the saxophonists are palpable, resulting in a fluid and exciting swing that is uplifting and exhilarating.

“Sasquatch” stands out with its intricate blend of Latin and Afro-Caribbean rhythms, based on Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” changes. This track showcases the ensemble’s elegant jazz language, delivering an exotic, fun, impressive, delightful, and toe-tapping feel.

“Misty” provides a modern take on a classic standard, blending historical jazz influences with contemporary sounds. Tiemann’s brushwork and Germanson’s elegant accompaniment perfectly complement Alexander’s engaging and interesting performance. This track’s nostalgic and swaying emotional connection resonates deeply, making it a memorable interpretation of a timeless piece.

Timing Is Everything reflects a blend of cultural elements, from the Afro-Caribbean rhythms in “Sasquatch” to the bebop and post-bop influences evident throughout the album. This cultural synthesis pays homage to jazz’s rich heritage but reflects today’s jazz sounds, making the album resonate with contemporary jazz lovers’. Alexander continues to define and expand his discography, and Timing Is Everything is a significant contribution.

The production quality is superb; it was recorded at Van Gelder Studio and engineered by Maureen Sickler. The clarity of each instrument and the balance between the ensemble and soloists provide an immersive listening experience. Chris Sulit and Mike LeDonne’s mixing and mastering enhance the sound quality, making this album a sonic delight.

Timing Is Everything is distinguished by its innovative blend of styles, exceptional musicianship, and emotional depth. The album’s thematic cohesion and technical finesse make it a standout release in contemporary jazz and solidify Eric Alexander’s position as a leading jazz figure.

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