That was the takeaway after his Wednesday, April 5 appearance with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra at Artis-Naples' Daniels Pavilion. Despite the big name, the band is actually a sextet. They explored a wide range of standard material, finding ways to add their own energetic stamp on it. In each case, the music was stretched for expansive and interesting solos by all of the participants.
Alexander had never played with any of them, but they worked together very well.
With the extended solos and features, the 80-minute performance included just seven tunes. They opened with Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's jazz classic "Four," often mis-attributed to Miles Davis, then dug into Ahmad Jamal's "Night Mist Blues." The latter tune was an evening highlight. While not a traditional blues by any stretch, it has a blues feel. It opened like a genteel ballad, thanks to Stawski's exquisite keyboard work, but Alexander soon added heavy doses of robust, harmonically challenging tenor fire. That musical energy set up a blistering solo from Miller.
|Alexander, Bergeron, Del Gatto|
The full band closed out the evening with a straight-ahead take on John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice."
Alexander's appearance completed the special guest portion of NPJO's 2016-2017 season. The band will perform once more on April 26 with the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim, the best-known composer in Brazil's bossa nova movement.
|Eric Alexander guests with the Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra|