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  Home arrow Chicago arrow Chicago Musicians, Venues, Reviews and Calendar arrow Calendar arrow The Eric Alexander/Harold Mabern Quartet returns to the Jazz Showcase
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 Thursday, 24 April 2014
The Eric Alexander/Harold Mabern Quartet returns to the Jazz Showcase Print E-mail
Written by Ronaldo Oregano   
Saturday, 22 June 2013

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Eric Alexander © Andrea Canter

It just doesn't get better than this. Eric Alexander is unquestionably one of the top tenor saxophonists playing today, his mastery of the music and his instrument are unsurpassed. Eric's friend and mentor, Harold Mabern is one of jazz's most respected and skilful pianists. As sideman and leader, Mabern has played with many jazz greats inclluding Miles Davis, Sonny Rollins, Wes Montgomery, Benny Golson and Sarah Vaughan. He has been a member of the groundbreaking groups the Jazztet, MJT+3 and the Contemporary Piano Ensemble. Join them as they perform with their quartet at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago on Thursday, June 27th through Sunday, June 30th with sets at 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. nightly and a 4:00 p.m. matinee on Sunday afternoon.

 

ImageAlong with some other Memphis musicians, Harold Mabern moved to Chicago in in 1954 where he soon found work backing up tenor sax players Johnny Griffin, Gene Ammons and Clifford Jordon. He also gained further influence from studying with pianist Ahmad Jamal and played in the hardbop group MJT + 3, before going on to New York City in 1959. “Chicago gave me the stuff I needed—and the confidence,” he recalled in 1987. “New York refined my stuff and it’s still doing it.”

One of his earliest significant gigs was an 18-month stay with Art Farmer and Benny Golson’s Jazztet. After the Jazztet disbanded, Mabern worked with Jimmy Forrest, Lionel Hampton, Donald Byrd and did a brief stint with Miles Davis in 1963.  He worked with J.J. Johnson (1963-65), Lee Morgan(1965) and Hank Mobley- recording the album, Dippin’. Sonny Rollins, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Williams (1966-67)  Mabern also played in a quartet with guitarist Wes Montgomery.

Between 1968-70,  Mabern led four albums for Prestige, the first being A Few Miles From Memphis with a lineup that featured two saxophonists, one of them fellow Memphis native George Coleman. As the 1970s began, Harold Mabern became a key member of Lee Morgan’s working group and appeared on several live and studio recordings made by the trumpeter before his death in 1972.

In more recent years, he has toured and recorded extensively with his former William Paterson University student, the tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. To date, Mabern and Alexander have appeared on over twenty CDs together. A longtime faculty member at William Paterson University since 1981, Mabern is also a frequent instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop. Harold Mabern has recorded as a leader for DIW/Columbia and Sackville and toured with the Contemporary Piano Ensemble (1993-1995).

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Eric Alexander © Andrea Canter
In 1991 Eric competed against Joshua Redman and Chris Potter in the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. Placing second, this launched him into the whirlwind life of a professional jazz musician. He played with organ trios on Chicago’s South Side, made his recording debut with Charles Earland (Muse Records, 1991), and cut his first album as a leader, “Straight Up” (Delmark, 1991). More recordings followed for numerous labels, including Milestone. In 1997 he put out “Man with a Horn.” The following year saw the release of “Solid!”—a collaborative quartet session with George Mraz, John Hicks, and Idris Muhammad—as well as the first recording by his sextet One for All.

Eric has appeared on record as a leader, sideman, producer, and composer. By now, he has lost count of how many albums feature his playing; he guesses 60 or 70. He has earned praise from critics and, even more important, established his own voice within the bebop tradition.

In 2004, Eric signed an exclusive contract with HighNote Records, an independent jazz label based in New York City. There he has amassed a considerable discography of critically acclaimed recordings. Most recent among them is “Don't Follow the Crowd,” and “Friendly Fire” with Vincent Herring.

Eric continues to tour the world and play to capacity audiences. Making his home in New York City, he performs regularly in clubs around the city and appears frequently at Smoke on the Upper West Side.


The Jazz Showcase is located at 806 S. Plymouth Court in the historic Dearborn Station building in the south Loop. Shows at 8 and 10 pm, 4 pm matinee on Sundays. Call for ticket information, 312-360-0234;  www.jazzshowcase.com

 



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