Recorded by ONE FOR ALL on OPTIMISM
Sharp Nine 1010-2 / February 16 & 17, 1998
Another great set closer, its guaranteed to get the crowd screaming and on their feet! This is an swinging uptempo blues with bridge: two choruses of blues followed by a II-V sequence bridge, then one more blues chorus. The tempo of this one can be as fast as you know you can maneuver the head. The solo background riffs are drawn from Jims solo on the original recording. The Drum solo section starts by dividing the blues sections: 4 bars ensemble, 8 bars drum solo. After the Drum solo, its D.C. al Coda, which has a dramatic ending.
A note from the composer:
(Eric:) This is a flagwaver that Jim and I put together for my first record date on Delmark Records. It ends up being simply a blues with a bridge, but the head has some interestng progressions in place of the standard blues changes. Originally, the bridge was an open solo section on the head, but Jim put together this line with this group in mind, as I remember.
Alexander has been exploring new musical worlds from the outset. He started out on piano as a six-year-old, took up clarinet at nine, switched to alto sax when he was 12, and converted to tenor when jazz became his obsession during his one year at the University of Indiana, Bloomington (1986-87). At William Paterson College in New Jersey he advanced his studies under the tutelage of Mabern, Joe Lovano, Rufus Reid, and others. "The people I listened to in college are still the cats that are influencing me today," says Alexander. "Monk, Dizzy, Sonny Stitt, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean, Joe Henderson--the legacy left by Bird and all the bebop pioneers, that language and that feel, that's the bread and butter of everything I do. George Coleman remains a big influence because of his very hip harmonic approach, and I'm still listening all the time to Coltrane because I feel that even in the wildest moments of his mid- to late-Sixties solos I can find these little kernels of melodic information and find ways to employ them in my own playing."
During the 1990s, after placing second behind Joshua Redman in the 1991 Thelonious Monk International Saxophone Competition, Alexander threw himself into the whirlwind life of a professional jazz musician. He played with organ trios on the South Side of Chicago, made his recording debut in 1991 with Charles Earland, and cut his first album as leader in 1992 (Straight Up for Delmark). More recordings for Delmark, Criss Cross, and Alfa followed, leading to 1997's Man with a Horn; the 1998 collaborative quartet session with George Mraz, John Hicks, and Idris Muhammad, Solid!; and, that same year, the first recording by One For All, Alexander's ongoing band with Jim Rotondi, Steve Davis, Joe Farnsworth, Peter Washington, and Dave Hazeltine.
By now, Alexander has lost count of how many albums feature his playing; he guesses 60 or 70. While he has garnered critical acclaim from every corner, what has mattered most has been to establish his own voice within the illustrious bop-based jazz tradition. "There was a point several years ago where I stopped thinking, 'What would Stitt or Trane do on this tune?,'" he says. "I put the horn in my mouth and just played the way that I play, trying to get out the ideas that I had in my head. Although I'm a perfectionist by nature, lately I've been able to be a little more accepting about the way I sound when I play the horn.
"If I'm not mistaken," Alexander concludes, "Joe Farnsworth once told me that Art Blakey used to say, 'I don't care whose instrument I play, I'll make it sound like me.' That's the battle we're trying to win--feeling confident and comfortable in all situations. If you get to the point where you can express yourself and get your sound, your feeling, and your vibe--on any instrument--then you've really gotten somewhere."
Trumpeter Jim Rotondi began his musical studies at a very early age. His mother, a piano teacher, encouraged Jim to begin playing the piano at age eight. He took up the trumpet at age twelve.
In 1980 Jim graduated from Butte High School in Butte, Montana. He then attended North Texas State University, where he graduated with a degree in trumpet performance. While in Texas, Jim was awarded first place in the International Trumpet Guild's jazz trumpet competition for the year 1984. After college Jim began recording and touring internationally with the Ray Charles Orchestra. Immediately following this he commenced a six year tenure with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra. During this time Jim also became a member of organist Charles Earland's quintet. He currently tours with his own group, as well as with the Carnegie Hall Jazz Band and Grammy-winner Toshiko Akiyoshi and the collective known as One For All, which features a front line of Eric Alexander and Steve Davis.
Jim's extensive recording experience most recently includes the release of his fifth date as a leader, titled "Destination Up", for the Sharp Nine label following the successful release of four CDs on the Criss Cross Jazz label. He can also be heard on several of Charles Earland's Highnote Records releases, alongside saxophonist Eric Alexander, with whom Jim made his recording debut on Eric's Delmark release "Straight Up". Other recordings include saxophonist George Coleman's Octet, featuring Harold Mabern, as well as drummer Ray Appleton's Sextet, which features Slide Hampton, Charles McPherson, and John Hicks. Jim is also a member of the aforementioned One For All, whose Sharp Nine Records releases "Too Soon To Tell" and "Optimism" received critical acclaim from Cadence, JazzTimes, and The Detroit Free Press.
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