Chicago native and hard-bop mainstay Eric Alexander is back in town, kicking off a four-night stand at the Jazz Showcase this evening.

The tenor saxophonist usually travels with members from one of his two New York-based working combos–the great pianist Harold Mabern was slated to appear with him, in fact, but had to cancel due to his wife’s poor health. Filling in will be local keyboardist Dan Trudell. Alexander is also playing with a local rhythm section: bassist Dennis Carroll and drummer George Fludas are old pals of his, and they share his no-nonsense aesthetic, creating music built from fiercely swinging grooves, muscular soloing, and exhilarating harmonic excursions.

His most recent album, Prime Time (HighNote), a live set recorded in April 2007 with bassist John Webber, pianist David Hazeltine, and drummer Joe Farnsworth, demonstrates that aesthetic handily: Alexander doesn’t pull any punches or push any envelopes. Rather, he sticks to fundamentals, churning out a powerful attack that testifies to hard bop’s enduring appeal.

Today’s playlist:

Falcons, Good Good Feelings (Soul Junction)
Pandelis Karayorgis, Nate McBride, and Curt Newton, Betwixt (Hatology)
Paul Motian Trio 2000 + Two, Live at the Village Vanguard Vol. II (Winter & Winter)
Martha Wainwright, I Know You’re Married but I’ve Got Feelings Too (Zoe)
Dillard & Clark, The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark (Water)