Alexander McCabe | I’d Prefer Review
by Jeff Becker
Alexander McCabe is a composer, pianist, and saxophonist that toured and performed with the Chico O’Farrill Afro-Cuban Big Band and was a featured soloist with the Ray Charles Orchestra. As a composer, McCabe has composed for many films and television shows, including A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood, The Affair (SHO), the Chris Rock film Top Five, Breaking Bad (AMC), Nurse Jackie (Showtime), Skins (MTV), Damages (Fox) and many more. Being a musician of many talents, McCabe is also a band member and songwriter for the popular ska band Mephiskapheles, with whom he has performed and toured the US and Europe. Mephiskapheles songs were featured prominently in MTV’s The Real Life. McCabe also recorded with the techno artist Moby on the soundtrack to the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies. He’s a member of the George Coleman Octet. He has played and toured with many well-known jazz artists, including Harold Mabern, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Cobb, and the actor Danny Aiello. He’s toured the UK and Europe and played at the Edinburgh, Vienne, North Sea, Pori, and Cork Jazz festivals. McCabe is now releasing his fourth album as a leader titled I’d Prefer. The ensemble is McCabe: alto saxophone, jazz icon George Coleman: tenor saxophone (tracks 1, 2, 6, 8), Anne McCabe: vocals (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7), Paul Odeh: piano, Chris Haney: bass and Jeff Brown: drums.
“You Really Don’t Care” opens the album with McCabe’s classic original melody and lyrics. Tenor saxophone legend George Colman joins in on the song to deliver an unforgettable listening experience. Anne sings the lyrics clearly, and they are very well-written. The two saxophonists provide counterpoint during the melody for added color. The relaxed medium swing is perfect for Coleman to explore during his solo choruses. His control of tone and use of space is just as enjoyable as his intricate melodies.
“Miss Maritza” is another McCabe original that he penned; this one is for his wife and is one of only two instrumentals on the project, which lets us hear his playing style and sound front and center. His tone is round, warm, and buzzes with the jazz tradition. Odeh, Haney, and Brown are a well-oiled unit as McCabe’s elegant lines snake through the harmony with beautiful time feel and harmonic accuracy. His alto tone sings in all registers, and he fluidly uses the whole range of his horn. Odeh’s solo continues the classic jazz sound and Haney’s bass solo is buoyant and melodic.
I’d Prefer is a multifaceted project that is tastefully done and has complementing original compositions, lyrics, and similarly engaging arrangements. The solo statements will satisfy any decade Jazz fan. Coleman is as nimble as ever, delivering high-caliber jazz representing the legendary saxophonist’s career that spans the years and speaks to the jazz tradition. I’d Prefer will persuasively appeal to enthusiasts of all ages. McCabe is a man of many talents, and I’d Prefer is a welcomed addition to the jazz canon.