Alex LoRe Quartet – More Figs And Blue Things (2016)

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Joe Rubenstein is a filmmaker and musician who started the film concern the Gotham Creative Group to create original content for the web. Recently, he’s brought together both of these competencies together with a seven-part reality series titled, “Working Musician,” following the struggle of young jazz musicians trying to make it in NYC’s unforgiving scene today. Episode One debuted just the other day and you can view it here. Some of these very musicians covered on Rubenstein’s series have made records reviewed on this space, insanely talented artists juggling several jobs to make ends meet with the cruel irony of getting paid the least to do the very thing where those talents are used the most.

The series’ central figure is the young and capable alto saxophonist and composer Alex LoRe. A couple years ago, we scrutinized the debut album by LoRe; Dream House which impressed us as “an opening statement that feels like mid-season form.” More Figs And Blue Things (October 10, 2016 from Inner Circle Music) is the second one and the sophomore release is where you’d might see the big leap. LoRe’s situation is different because he started out so far ahead, the growth isn’t going be pronounced simply because it doesn’t need to be. But it’s there, and that comes primarily in how More Figs just feels more like a group record.

LoRe brings back Colin Stranahan on drums and Desmond White on bass, but adds a pianist Glenn Zaleski to provide the choral sound missing from the first record. Zaleski has teamed with Stranahan for a couple of records made with bassist Rick Rosato, so the rapport is baked-in, and it’s conspicuous from the start: listen to Stranahan playing right along during “Southbound” with Zaleski when the latter takes a solo.

There’s more to note from this opening track: a richly complex melodic progression that flows like a simple one, and LoRe’s delicate dance over it making the difficult appear simple. “Next Time” could be called a ballad, until it unexpectedly comes to a virtual standstill when White leaves behind a transitory figure that leads the song into a suddenly dynamic direction, culminating into a lively exchange of ideas between LoRe and Zaleski. On “Normal,” Zaleski lays out a while during which LoRe swings like the dickens, with ample support from Zaleski’s bustle.

“Away” showcases Zaleski’s sensitive discharge of notes, so lovely that LoRe takes his time to enter, and when he does, he matches Zaleski’s sweet sentiment. “Cold Spring” takes the opposite tact of “Next Time,” beginning frantically and later settling into a hushed mood gracefully paced by White’s bass before Stranahan’s relentless snare leads the charge back into the wide open.

Following a brief “Interlude” of just LoRe and White, the pensive and esoteric “Fig For Birds” shows off superb group coaction while maintaining a certain looseness, too. As a typical LoRe composition, it’s episodic and flows like good storytelling. Many times, LoRe tells those stories from his pliant sax, as on “And Mending,” which begins its life as a forlorn ballad in the manner of Wayne Shorter’s “Infant Eyes” before building up momentum.

At the same time, LoRe plainly recognizes the capabilities at his disposal and gives them complete freedom to be themselves. There’s Zaleski’s lissome piano murmur on the relatively short “No More Sky Blues” and Stranahan straining against confinement on “Wild Things”, keeping it unbound even after the song returns to the melody after a fluttery moment off the leash.

Through his films and film music, Joe Rubenstein portrays compelling stories of people like Alec LoRe. But LoRe best tells his story through his composing pen, his alto saxophone and his like-minded companions. More Figs And Blue Things is his engaging second chapter.

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on,, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at
S. Victor Aaron

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