Eric Wyatt is the spirit of Brooklyn - tough, straight ahead and he can swing!
Brent Black / www.criticaljazz.com
You have as many tenor players running around New York as you have taxi cabs, Eric Wyatt simply happens to be one of the finest. Four releases as a leader under his belt and having a resume that includes Jeff "Tain" Watts, Kenny Garrett, and Jeremy Pelt there is little doubt that Wyatt can deliver the goods and his debut on Posi-Tone is proof positive. The aptly title Borough of Kings is a hard charging swing fest that features stellar originals from Eric Wyatt and band that would seem to feed off his lyrical sense of direction.
Some special appearance are made by Clifton Anderson, Duane Eubanks, and Kyle Poole. The lone cover would be the iconic John Coltrane tune "Countdown" which Wyatt takes temporary custody of in a inspired performance. The release immediately pops with the syncopated minor key composition "The Peoples Champ" which would seem to capture the smoldering pulse of the Brooklyn swing that is almost a genre unto itself. The title track "Borough of Kings" opens as an angst filled ballad but quickly morphs into a smoker that seemingly has no limits. Benito Gonzalez simply kills it as does Wright. The Gonzalez tune "Quest" works incredibly well within the confines of the release and the musical co-conspirators assembled. The closer "What Would I Do Without You" is a beautiful mid-tempo swing that simply caps off a rock solid release. The rhythm section of Ameen Saleem on bass and Shinnosuke Takahashi lay down a righteous groove and the addition of drummer Kyle Poole on the Wright original "Can He Come Out" takes in the pocket to that special place.
Eric Wright is not a rising star or a newbie. Wright is a seasoned pro with chops, talent and tenacity that exudes with his lyrically intense attack and melodic manipulation of emotions. Finding anything critical here is like looking for a needle in the proverbial harmonic haystack.
Having long said that Posi-Tone may well have the best stable of tenor players, Eric Wright simply confirms the accuracy of my statement.
Tracks: The Peoples Champ; One For Hakim; Borough of Kings; Can He Come Out; Ancient Chinese Secrets; Quest; Countdown; What Would I Do Without You.
Personnel: Eric Wyatt: Saxophones, Flute; Duane Eubanks: Trumpet (4); Clifton Anderson: Trombone (8); Benito Gonzalez: Piano; Ameen Saleem: Bass; Shinnosuke Takahashi: Drums; Kyle Poole: (4)