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Eric Alexander, John Hicks, George Mraz, Idris Muhammad
Solid!,  Milestone CD MCD-9283-2, 1998

 Solid jazz satisfaction

To show you right where this review is going, it’s been pretty much in my CD player for the last six days. I’ll push the Play whenever I’m typing at the computer and need a cool down session.

The music is slick and it slides. Nine tracks, 60 minutes. You get your money’s worth. Starts with "Solid" by Sonny Rollins, and ends with Coltrane’s "Straight Street," and both cut the laser deeply into the groove.  Solid is the right title. Oh, man, it’s right.

This album contains compositions by the greats: Monk, Ellington, Miles Davis, Sonny Clark. Good line-up they picked, and the four star players (with two guest stars) know how to keep you hooked with jazz that I’d call classical.

The opening song, "Solid," rolls to a close with sax that spits out like twisty macaroni; then "Little Melonae" starts on a great eight-minute piece of tenor sax from big-lipped Eric Alexander. The piano jams chords on one side of your brain, while the reed pumps out an amazing array of smooth notes, still staying on track. Go to sleep with "Theme for Ernie" by Fred Lacey. There’s a difference between sleeping from boredom and sleeping because that’s where you want to go. This is where you want to be.

I can’t tell if "Fire Waltz" is in 3/4 (waltz) time, but does it matter? Here’s a Mal Waldron tune that dances along with keys and high hats like it’s going out the door on New Year’s night.

"Light Blue" by the one and only T. Monk is a beautiful tune, and nicely titled. It’s not heavy blue, it’s not even just blue. There is encouragement sparkling up from John Hicks’ piano. I only wish I could hear George Mraz’s bass more. It would be a great place to lay down some booming counterpoint.

The album just came out late in ’98. You won’t be disappointed. Unless you’re just an ass. – Ben Ohmart


Eric Alexander, tenor sax; John Hicks, piano; George Mraz, bass; Idris Muhammad, drums; Jim Rotondi, trumpet; Joe Locke, vibraphone.

songs titles

Solid • Little Melonae • Theme for Ernie • Fire Waltz • Four • The Star-Crossed Lovers • My Conception • Light Blue • Straight Street

Copyright © 1999 Peppercorn Press. All rights reserved.