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So, one of the first questions about this band led by pianist David Kikoski might be, “What is Kaymode?” Depending upon your background, you either are familiar with Beast Mode, the popular mixtape by the rapper Future (Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn) or more likely, a football fan will think of running back Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, whose running style was synonymous with ferocious abandon. One evening on a gig, Kikoski was told by his saxophonist, “man you are in ‘K-Mode’ tonight.” David loved the reference immediately. Subsequently, that sobriquet evolved into “Kayemode” as it became not just the title of a 2016 album, but also the name of his band. It is true that Kikoski can frequently get into that hard-core beast-like state of effervescent, muscular swing. But he can also play with great beauty, sensitivity and lyricism, especially on ballads and when accompanying vocalists. He’s a professional jazz musician in every sense.
A native of New Jersey (he still lives there), Kikoski followed in his pianist-father’s footsteps and played alongside him on bar gigs as a teenager. He went off to Berklee College of Music, then returned to New York to work. He became drummer Roy Haynes’s regular pianist for a couple of decades, but also played regularly with other great players, particularly Randy Brecker, and won a GRAMMY® Award with The Mingus Big Band and Mingus Dynasty band. He has had a prolific solo career as well, with 19 albums as a leader.
On this date, along with preferred rhythm section mates Joe Martin on bass and the splendid, venerable drummer, Billy Hart, is tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander, who has been a South Florida JAZZ favorite for several years, now making his fourth appearance. Alexander is one of the most respected and also prolific artists on the jazz scene. Beyond frequent guesting with several first-call players in the New York area, he has compiled a discography of 43 albums as a leader. His latest, With Strings (HighNote), scratches a long-held itch (reflecting the Charlie Parker and Clifford Brown pinnacles). Eric’s playing can be full-throated, forceful or soulful, but it is always melodic – think Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin and even Ben Webster. This is an all-star band of modern jazz experts.
David Kikoski – piano
Eric Alexander – tenor saxophone
Joe Martin – double bass
Billy Hart – drums