Photo: Eric Alexander | Credit: Antonio Porcar for HighNote Records
Program note: We’re back on air after having the station’s fund drive and programming disrupted by an attempted shutdown by a faction of the Pacifica Network’s national board. WBAI now has an even more urgent need for donations and monthly subscribers to help it recover. We ask that you give anything you can right now and would appreciate that you name our show when doing so. The money goes to support the station’s operating expenses: we don’t get anything from this. Thanks in advance.
The next show will air on Tuesday November 19, 2019 from 10:00 PM – 12 Midnight Eastern Standard Time on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. In this installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl,” we will continue to honor Harold Mabern by recognizing his favorite student: tenor saxophonist, composer and instructor Eric Alexander.
Eric Alexander 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 Harold Mabern, Joe Lovano, Rufus Reid, and others.
Alexander has appeared in many capacities on record, including leader, sideman, producer as well as composing a number of the tunes he records. By now, Alexander has lost count of how many albums feature his playing; he guesses 80 or 90. 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.
Alexander’s most recent release is “Leap of Faith” (Giant Step Arts, 2019). “Eric Alexander with Strings” is scheduled to release December 6, 2019 on HighNote Records.
(Bio adapted from Alexander’s website.)
We will also briefly talk to Diane Armesto, the Executive Producer of “Eric Alexander with Strings.”
This program is hosted, engineered, produced, and edited by Joyce Jones. Listen for our On the Bandstand segment with NYC metro area appearances of Suga’ guests at the end of the first hour with Associate Producer Hank Williams.
Watch Alexander and pianist Mabern’s rendition of “Embraceable You” with the New York All Stars in this live clip.
The next show will air on Sunday December 23, 2012 from 11:00pm – 1:00am Monday on WBAI, 99.5 FM in the NYC metro area or streaming online at wbai.org. In this installment of “Suga’ In My Bowl,” we will present pianist, composer, educator Harold Mabern. Mabern is also the father of Michael Mabern, a longtime producer of the “Creative Unity Collective” show on WBAI. You can hear a 30-second preview of the show below.
Harold Mabern (born March 20, 1936), one of jazz’s most enduring and dazzlingly skilled pianists, was born in Memphis, a city that produced saxophonists George Coleman and Charles Lloyd, pianist Phineas Newborn Jr. and trumpeter Booker Little. He was an unsung hero of the 1960s hardbop scene, performing and recording with many of its finest artists, and only in recent years has he begun to garner appreciation for his long-running legacy in jazz and the understated power of his talent; as critic Gary Giddins has written, “With the wind at his back, he can sound like an ocean roar.”
During his over half-century on the scene as sideman and leader, he has played and recorded with such greats as Lee Morgan, Sonny Rollins, Hank Mobley, Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis, just to name a few. Mabern takes his sideman work very seriously: “I was never concerned with being a leader,” he says. “I just always wanted to be the best sideman I could be”. “Be in the background so you can shine through.”
In more recent years, he has toured and recorded extensively with his former William Paterson University student, the tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. To date, Mabern and Alexander have appeared on over twenty CDs together. A faculty member at William Paterson University since 1981, Mabern is also a frequent instructor at the Stanford Jazz Workshop.
His latest release is “Mr. Lucky: A Tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.” released this year on HighNote Records.
Produced, Hosted, and Engineered by Joyce Jones.
Live clip of Mabern playing with Eric Alexander
Eric Alexander talks about Harold Mabern as a teacher.