December 6 street date. Eric Alexander's prowess on the tenor saxophone, his unimpeachable virtuosity and technical skill, is obvious to anyone who has paid attention to his fluent and stirring work over the past three decades. His reputation as a hard-blowing jazz gladiator has stood him well with fellow musicians and loyal listeners. Admired and enjoyed for his exceptional powers, Alexander is a model of mainstream jazz expertise. However, on this HighNote recording Eric, backed by three of his favorite colleagues and the lush sounds of a string orchestra, brings his lyrical side to the fore. "I wanted to get straight into the beauty of a song, always putting the melody first, " Alexander states about his expressed intentions for the album. "Improvisations are the icing on the cake." With the fruition of this dream project Alexander has again succeeded in proving that his long obvious gifts as a player are equaled by his respect for the gift of song.