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. 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.
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 with New York Calling on Criss Cross. 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.
Also during this period, he co-founded the jazz supergroup One for All with trumpeter Jim Rotondi, trombonist Steve Davis, pianist David Hazeltine, bassist John Webber, and drummer Joe Farnsworth. A hard-swinging ensemble in the mold of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, One for All toured often, and released a bevy of albums since the late '90s including Too Soon to Tell, Wide Horizons, and What's Going On?
On his own, Alexander has kept busy releasing a steady slew of his own 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 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.
Real Thing, featuring his longtime band with Harold Mabern, Joe Farnsworth, and John Webber, appeared in 2015. A year later, he paired with the Bernd Reitem Quintet for a live album on SteepleChase, followed by another guest session on Federico Bonifazi's You'll See, also on SteepleChase. The saxophonist also reconnected with One for All for 2016's The Third Decade. Alexander then returned to his own session work with 2016's Second Impression, which once again showcased octogenarian bassist Bob Cranshaw. In 2017, he delivered Song of No Regrets, featuring appearances by percussionist Alex Diaz and special guest trumpeter Jon Faddis. ~ Scott Yanow~ Rovi