On A Song of Hope, his second album for Whaling City Sound, saxophonist Eric Wyatt offers more than hope; he offers assurance that contemporary jazz is alive and well in and around his home base of Brooklyn, NY. Wyatt, the godson of another rather well-known saxophonist, Sonny Rollins, performs in groups of various sizes, from quartet to octet, with vocals by Samara Joy on two numbers, “Fragile” and Wyatt’s “Say Her Name.” The almost-constants are pianist Donald Vega, bassist Eric Wheeler and drummer Jeff Watts, who are on board for eight numbers but step aside for a pair of Wyatt-Watts duets and are replaced by bassist Mike Boone and his talented fourteen-year-old son, drummer Mekhi Boone, on John Coltrane‘s “Central Park West” and McCoy Tyner‘s “Contemplation.”
While there are occasional glimpses of Rollins (and Coltrane) in Wyatt’s broad-shouldered tenor, for the most part it is strictly Wyatt, blowing with awareness and enthusiasm on every number. That is to say, almost every number, as he plays soprano on “Fragile” whose oracular lyric (by Sting) no doubt conveys a profound message to today’s younger listeners.
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