HighNote and Savant Records, the two labels working out of a basement on the Upper West Side in New York, just announced two new releases for April. Tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, a mainstay at the label since the 2000 release “Alexander The Great”, is hailed as one of the most ambitious and influential saxophonists of today. Interestingly, he has switched from tenor to alto for the first time. On “A New Beginning” (HighNote), Eric is accompanied by his regular rhythm section consisting of David Hazeltine (p), John Webber (b), and Joe Farnsworth (dr). On seven of the nine tracks, he adds strings conducted by Bill Dobbins. The repertoire includes mostly ballads like “Maybe September”, “Embraceable You”, and “She Was Too Good To Me”. It’s a follow-up to his tenor-meets-strings album “Eric Alexander with Strings” (2019), featuring the arrangements by Dave Rivello on beautiful standards like “Some Other Time” and “Slow Hot Wind”.
On the sister label Savant Records, drummer Louis Hayes will release his latest album “Exactly Right!”. The 85-year old master (and 2023 NEA Jazz Master) has recorded for the predecessor of Savant/HighNote, the legendary Muse Records, on albums like the 1974 “Breath Of Life” or the 1978 “The Real Thing”. “Exactly Right!” follows his 2021 album “Crisis” (Savant) and features Abraham Burton on tenor sax, Steve Nelson on vibes, David Hazeltine on piano, and Dezron Douglas on bass.