by Giovanni Russonello
Few straight-ahead tenor saxophonists in the past 30 years have topped Wayne Escoffery in terms of instrumental command and direct power. He has imposing abilities, but he uses them to gently control a situation, and put you at ease. He’ll be in town this Wednesday to perform two sets at Blues Alley, and we’re giving away a couple pairs of tickets to the 10 p.m. set.
Escoffery’s deep lake of sound, and lyrical soloing, have earned him sideman gigs with the likes of Abdullah Ibrahim, Ben Riley and the Mingus Big Band. When he comes to Blues Alley, he’ll be leading a combo featuring the expert trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and the pianist Rachel Z. Pelt’s own bands always attract strong crowds; he’s dedicated to retaining a blues sense across various takes on the possibilities of the current jazz field. Rachel Z is an admirer of Wayne Shorter’s composition who has collaborated with him and whose chops as an arranger color her rhythmic approach as a pianist.
This rare band is worth checking out. Enter the drawing by clicking above.