Eric Wyatt Represents in Harlem
What’s astounding about the jazz – Black American Music – BAM scene in NYC is that everyone can swing – really swing. The average musician with a horn under his/her arm can outdo the next one, and will certainly be outdone by the other. It’s a highly competitive, cutthroat business around here, complete with daily challenges to find a way to set oneself apart from the rest.
I recently came across one of the most unique, gifted saxophone players I’ve ever encountered. After a fantastic Lakecia Benjamin show at Ginny’s, we strolled into the Lenox Lounge to find saxophonist Eric Wyatt obliterating the room with his incredibly astute band. This wasn’t just another attempt to mimic Coltrane or Bird or Rollins. This was raw, real be bop that had me raising my hands in an act of worship. Eric brings a level of wisdom, integrity, sophistication and a sound that will pull your heart right out of its cavity. He’s an intuitive, intellectual composer who does more than channel the greats who came before him. He has a way of honoring the ancestors and at the same time inserting his own flow and flavor in the mix. His sound is lyrical. Full. Fluid. Bold. Emotional. Swag.
Eric Wyatt was raised with this music. His father Charles Wyatt, a jazz mainstay from back in the 50s, played and interacted with all the greats, Sonny Rollins being one of them. Sonny is Eric’s godfather and has truly instilled in him just the right amount of tutelage to have helped him develop his chops and discover his own signature sound. What an honor to evolve to such a level – it’s in his DNA.
When you see him live with his band, the Eric Wyatt Quartet: Eric on sax, Benito Gonzalez, piano, Tyler Mitchell, bass and ShinnosukeTakahashi on drums, it’s an exhilarating trip. Add trumpeter Theo Croker when he plays with the quintet. These cats are tight as hell – their communication and instinct with one another is notable. You see joy on the faces of each musician when they play. It’s a high level experience from all angles. You must experience them. They often play at the Lenox Lounge on Monday nights. Otherwise you can catch them at any of the major venues around New York – Smalls, The Vanguard, Dizzy’s.
Eric recently did a project with trombonist Clifton Anderson entitled And So We Carry On. He also did an interesting tour with writer Kris Saknussemm called Reverend America. This saxophone master really diversifies his repertoire and remains focused on staying current. His evolution has put him at the top of his game right now. You should experience this wonderful talent before he heads to China or anywhere else in the world, where he will be for months at a time. And if you catch him at the Lenox Lounge, buy his two CDs. He’s playing there on November 19th, 23rd & 26th. It’s some of the best, most compelling music I’ve ever heard.