Saxophonist Greg Tardy distinguishes himself as a thoughtful composer and interpreter on his latest release and debut recording for Palmetto Records. The New Orleans-raised musician takes a giant step forward with a record of great depth and feeling.
Tardy has been an in-demand sideman for Elvin Jones and Russell Gunn. He has recently worked and recorded with Andrew Hill on the award-winning 2000 release Dusk
(Palmetto) and with the Dave Douglas Sextet Soul On Soul
(RCA/Victor 2000). His post-Coltrane explorations run parallel to those of Joe Lovano and focus on musical phraseology to get his message across. Abundance
opens with a bang as the quartet plus altoist, Miguel Zenon, smoke through the hard-edge "Plan B," a muscular bop tune that is loud and confident. Together with pianist George Colligan, Tardy can step in multiple directions. They take on a Coltrane-like meditation on "Warring Spirits," negotiating the calm with certainty, but getting a bit lost in the turmoil of the rough middle passages. Perhaps his outside playing requires a bit of maturing, but there is still plenty here to savor.
Tardy's take on a classic "The Very Thought of You" is almost worth the price of admission itself. He caresses Ray Noble's tune with a conscientious and patient tone beyond his thirty-something years. Tardy has taken great strides since his early Impulse! debut. He manages a clarinet (his first instrumet) on "Nene's Way," plus some nifty soprano on "Iconoclasm," an open-ended blues. Where Tardy's free work sometimes wonders, his sound is rock solid in the hard-bop realm. The band takes a self-described 'burnout tune' "Nebulosity" and the medium-paced 'Educated Guesswork" to logical conclusions. Tardy's duet with drummer Woody Williams on "Nebulosity" conjures Jones/Coltrane more than Coltrane/Ali. The session ends with his nod to Charlie Rouse, the unassuming Thelonious Monk sideman. As Colligan waits, Tardy runs the emotional gamut of Sean Conly's walking bass and the aggressive Williams. When Colligan weighs in, it is to wrap up a very successful session.