Saxophonist Wayne Escoffery to Release New Project “Alone” on August 30th, 2024 | LISTEN!

Saxophonist/Composer Wayne Escoffery Reflects on Love, Loss, and Solitude on his Stunning New Album, an Atmospheric and Haunting Mood Piece

Due out August 30, 2024 via Smoke Sessions, Alone Features a Remarkable All-Star Quartet with Gerald Clayton, Ron Carter, and Carl Allen

In the summer of 2023, saxophonist and composer Wayne Escoffery found himself alone in a way that he’d never quite experienced before. He was away from home, on sabbatical in Europe with a month to himself between tours. A long-term relationship had just ended, and he was confronted with the loss of friendships that he’d once valued. Worst of all, he’d suffered a broken finger that left him unable to play the saxophone for the first time since he’d picked up the horn in high school.

“Normally, my coping mechanism would be the saxophone,” Escoffery laments. “But even that wasn’t available to me for about nine weeks, so I just had to be alone in my thoughts.”

He made good use of this alone time, conceptualizing the music that makes up his striking and singular new album, Alone. What emerged from that solitude was an extended mood piece, an album unique in Escoffery’s typically wide-ranging catalogue for its sustained atmosphere of stark melancholy and searching introspection. Due out August 30, 2024, via Smoke Sessions Records, the music is breathtakingly interpreted by an all-star quartet featuring iconic bassist Ron Carter, drummer Carl Allen, and pianist Gerald Clayton.

Escoffery hails from London, England, and lived a nomadic existence before finding a formative mentor in Jackie McLean, settling in New Haven, Connecticut, and then attending the Hartt School in Hartford to study with the legendary saxophonist. A Grammy Award and DownBeat Critics Poll winner, Escoffery has performed with such revered artists as Herbie Hancock, Abdullah Ibrahim, Al Foster, Tom Harrell, Billy Hart, Eddie Henderson, Ralph Peterson, Wallace Roney, Monty Alexander, and others. He is also a long-time member of the Grammy award-winning Mingus Big Band and one of the band’s musical directors.

The saxophonist has enjoyed a decades-long relationship with Carter, considering the bass giant a mentor since his days in grad school at the Thelonious Monk Institute, now the Hancock Institute. He’s since recorded as a member of Carter’s Great Big Band, and the two have shared the stage on a number of occasions, but Escoffery was intent on finding the perfect project to feature Carter on an album of his own.

Finding a drummer to pair with Carter, on the other hand, can prove daunting. The sheer weight of his storied legacy can be intimidating, but Allen shares his own history with the bassist and has also been a longtime mentor for Escoffery. He recorded with the saxophonist on his albums Times Change and If Dreams Come True, making the Alone session something of a reunion after a nearly two-decade hiatus.

Clayton is more of a peer to Escoffery, but Alone marks the first time the two have had a chance to play substantially together. “We played together on a few occasions when he was living in New York but haven’t connected much in recent years for whatever reason, though I’ve admired his work with the late Roy Hargrove and more recently with Charles Lloyd. I really appreciate Gerald’s comping and his attention to detail. He has great ears and harmonic understanding, and he sounds amazing on this album.”

Alone was conceived during a time of isolation, heartbreak, regret, and reflection, but the experience of the album is far richer even than that. In the end, “I was forced to reflect on life and what was most important to me,” Escoffery concludes. “The concept of this album grew out of that reflection.”

“Alone” was produced by Paul Stache and Damon Smith,
and recorded live in New York at Sear Sound’s Studio C on a
Sear-Avalon custom console at 96KHz/24bit and mixed to 1/2″ analog tape.
Available in audiophile HD format.

Wayne Escoffery· Alone
Smoke Sessions Records · Release Date: August 30, 2024

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