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A fine straight-ahead jazz saxophonist, Eric Alexander grew up in the state of Washington. He initially attended Indiana University, studying classical music as an altoist. However, he soon discovered jazz, switched to the tenor, and transferred to William Paterson College in New Jersey. After graduating, he moved to Chicago and gained important experience touring with Charles Earland while also becoming a fixture in local clubs. In 1991, Alexander placed second at the Thelonious Monk Institute's saxophone competition, finishing just behind Joshua Redman. In 1992, he relocated to New York and made his recording debut as a leader that year with a set for Criss Cross. Alexander was set to join Art Taylor's Wailers in 1995 when the drummer passed away. Influenced by Dexter Gordon and George Coleman, but gradually developing a more original sound, Alexander has also worked with Mel Rhyne, Cecil Payne, Kenny Barron, and Eddie Henderson, among others. Alexander recorded two additional sets as a leader for Criss Cross, was part of their Tenor Triangle session, and cut several heated CDs for Delmark, including one that he co-led with veteran tenor Lin Halliday. His 11th album, Man with a Horn, was licensed for U.S. release in 1999 by Milestone, which also issued the follow-up, The First Milestone, in 2000. Since that time, Alexander has kept busy releasing a steady slew of albums including Summit Meeting in 2002, Dead Center in 2004, Battle: Live at Smoke with alto saxophonist Vincent Herring, Temple of Olympic Zeus in 2007, Prime Time: In Concert in 2008, Revival of the Fittest in 2009, and Don't Follow the Crowd in 2011. In 2012, Alexander once again paired up with equally adept saxophonist Herring for the concert album Friendly Fire: Live at Smoke. Two years later, he paid homage to his adopted hometown of Chicago with the album Chicago Fire. ~ Scott Yanow