A quick trip to multiple reedman Alex Graham's web site finds his sound compared to Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon, and Horace Silver, but a couple of spins of The Good Life tells you that these reactions must be referring to the band's collective sound. Graham plays alto sax, flute, and clarinet -- the latter two reeds on the opener only-but he's an alto saxophonist first and foremost on this outing. His tone on that main horn sounds like Jackie McLean's to me -- tart and tangy, with a little bit of a slur in his articulation and some edge in the sound.
Of the six tunes here, two are originals and four are penned by others -- Wayne Shorter's "It's a Long Way Down," Tadd Dameron's "On a Misty Night," Warren/Gordon's "I Had the Craziest Dream," and the Distal/Reardon gem "The Good Life."
The band sounds particularly inspired on the Shorter piece, a driving uptempo groove where the rhythm section locks in, with a bounce in its step, behind a sizzling Graham. The leader's original "Push" teases with that previously mentioned flute/alto/clarinet interplay on the intro. It's a fine arrangement, and I wish he'd done some more of this, but it's all alto for the rest of the way -- and his snappy "Explosion" sounds like a cooker right off a sixties Blue Note set.
"The Good Life" slows the pace and showcases Graham's ballad playing-sweet and soulful, with a contained energy, his finest blowing on the record.
A strong outing from alto saxophonist Alexander Graham.