Tenor saxist Wayne Escoffery was born in London and moved to the U.S. in his mid teens in 1986. Within a few years he was mentored by the late great Jackie McLean, and then attended the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and graduated with a Masters degree in 1999.
The obligatory move to the Big Apple followed and Wayne soon became one of the “young lions,” which moniker described the talented straight ahead players of the last ten years. Escoffery jumped in feet first into top-flight sidemen work with the likes of Tom Harrell (who returns the favor here), the Charlie Mingus tribute big band, and Ben Riley’s Thelonious Monk tribute group, the Monk Legacy Septet.
Wayne’s second Savant label CD, Hopes and Dreams, shows his progress as a composer and band leader, and he now has band leaders as his CD sidemen, such as Lewis Nash, Joe Locke, and Tom Harrell. Winning tracks here include Wayne’s penned swinging title cut with Locke on marimba; Harrell’s Liason; and Mingus’ Noon Night, where Wayne’s melancholy solo sounds straight out of a noirish movie soundtrack. Coltrane’s Chronic Blues provides more soulful Escoffery. Bill Barron’s Dedication to Wanda is also particularly moving. I highly recommend this top flight CD to fans of the new generation of young tenor stylists.
Hope and Dreams, Liason, Noon Night, Love Walked In, Chronic Blues, Dedication to Wanda, The Sake of It, The Face I Love (live)