JazzTimes (p.67) - "Throughout, Easley demonstrates command of rhythms and tempos. He plays well-constructed phrases and exhibits a palette of tonal shadings appropriate for each mood and honoree."
Personnel: Bill Easley (alto saxophone, tenor saxophone); Danny Mixon (piano); Greg Bandy (drums).
Audio Mixer: Ben Elliott.
Recording information: Showplace Studios, Dover, NJ.
Photographer: Rick Gilbert.
There is both good and bad news where Bill Easley's résumé is concerned. The good news: Easley has an impressively long list of sideman credits and has been featured extensively by many jazz heavyweights over the years. The bad news: the veteran saxophonist has recorded only sporadically as a leader. But Easley's work as a leader--although sporadic--has generally been solid, and HEARING VOICES is no exception. This acoustic quartet date (Easley is joined by pianist Danny Mixon, bassist JJ Wiggins [aka Hassan Shakur] and drummer Greg Bandy) finds him doing what he does best: hard bop with a touch of soul-jazz. HEARING VOICES is a tribute album, although Easley doesn't pay homage to one artist specifically; instead, he salutes a variety of tenor and/or alto saxophonists who have influenced him along the way. And that means acknowledging everyone from Coleman Hawkins on "Coleman" (an Easley original) and Lester Young on "Lester Leaps In" to Charlie Parker on "Confirmation" and "Scrapple from the Apple." Illinois Jacquet is acknowledged on Sir Charles Thompson's "Robin's Nest," while Cannonball Adderley is acknowledged on Sam Jones' "Unit 7." This 63-minute CD is heavy on overdone warhorses, but that's understandable because HEARING VOICES is, in a sense, autobiographical for Easley. HEARING VOICES is not only about Bird, Hawk or The Prez' contributions to jazz in general, but also, their impact on Easley. So it makes sense that he would want to include a lot of standards that have been a part of his musical life over the years. Easley, of course, is a fine saxophonist in his own right, and his excellence prevails on this 2009 release.