He’s been mentored by sax masters such as Lee Konitz, George Garzone and the late, great James Moody and obtained an advanced music degree from New York’s renowned Manhattan School of Music. It’s safe to state that Alex LoRe is ready to lead on a recording date or two. Yes, more than ready.
Released earlier this week, Dream House (Inner Circle Music) is the introduction of a talented young alto saxophonist to the world, a fully formed ace who performs, composes and even produces this set of eight tunes, mostly in the mainstream jazz vein. What’s more, he leads a skill-packed trio that includes Desmond White on bass and Colin Stranahan on drums, which leaves LoRe out there naked with no chordal help. But he has not a thing to hide.
Garzone joins him for three of the cuts, including the West Coast jazz-inspired number “Amnesia,” where LoRe acquaints us with his good sense of swing and modulation, as well as an attractive, velvety tone seldom heard from the current generation of jazz sax practitioners. Garzone follows with a frisky solo of his own, so attuned to the rhythm section. But LoRe left no question that he could hang with the older vet. The other two Garzone-guested songs “Forward” and “Buto” are in the modern jazz vein, with the former suspended in timekeeping, though it tentatively appears during each of the saxophonist’s solos; they each solo confidently against an uncertain backdrop. “Buto” grooves, but is just as free.
The trio songs have a different feel altogether. It’s especially in this setting where Stranahan makes his presence known, but never in an overbearing way. His trademark snare and cymbal ride combination is hard to miss but at the same time, he never threatens to overtake the leader. The angularity of “Here Comes Tomorrow,” written by White, requires all three to play nimbly, and they do. LoRe carries the tune while staying lithe, and Stranahan is muscular and lean at the same time; White has everything bolted down making the heroics of the other two possible. “Dream House,” a string of closely connected concepts mostly rendered as a loose waltz, suggests LoRe’s advanced conception of song craft.
LoRe taps into the Duke Ellington songbook to show what he can do with a ballad. For “Tonight I Shall Sleep,” he plays very respectful of Duke’s pretty melody but also fearlessly at times. Again, folks, there’s no piano or guitar backing him up, but he presents a complete portrait of the song on his own.
This is an opening statement that feels like mid-season form. Alex LoRe has gotten off to a splendid start with Dream House.