Every time he plays, saxophonist Wayne Escoffery brings a sense memory that includes early days in the church choir in New Haven, Connecticut; the wisdom and watchful eye of the legendary Jackie McLean; time spent with The Mingus Big Band, Ron Carter and Tom Harrell.
So when Escoffery decided it was time to express his latest feelings on his new album, Vortex, he possessed all the necessary skills. He also had strong support from pianist David Kikoski, bassist Ugonna Okegwo and drummer Ralph Peterson, Jr., who also contributed two of his own compositions to the mix.
Escoffery's title track swirls to a post-bop boil. Harell’s “February” takes the chill off, while Escoffery gives “In His Eyes” a heartfelt feeling that comes with being a good father to his son, Vaughan, heightened by guest trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and drummer Kush Abadey.
Vortex is also Escoffery’s raw response to the racism and bigotry his son will have to face. Expression is the best combatant to meet the vortex head on. In the hands of this talented spirit, it’s a strong time coming.
Wayne Escoffrey celebrates his new recording Vortex at Smoke Jazz Club tonight through Sunday.