Altoist Alex Graham's The Good Life is easy-going, straightahead post-Coltrane hard bop executed with skill by all involved. Although released in late 2005, it was recorded less than three years after Graham's 1995 debut, Countdown. And it, too, includes Rick Roe on piano. This time, however the instrumentation is a basic quartet, and the bassist and drummer are the veterans Rodney Whitaker and Joe Strasser.
While the nicely varied program includes two Graham originals (on of which has him overdubbing alto, flute and clarinet), it also features the standards "I Had the Craziest Dream," taken in quick waltz time, the ballad "The Good Life" and two jazz classics in Wayne Shorter's "It's a Long Way Down" and Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night."
On the up-tunes, Graham plays fluently and unpretentiously with an attractice tone that's somewhat evocative of Kenny Garrett's. And his slow-tempo work, as on "The Good Life," is tender and moving. His colleagues are all accomplished pros. Whitaker's big tone is especially impressive on the slow-moving ballad, where each note rings out fully until the next one pushes it aside.