Saxophonist Amanda Gardier
's sophomore recording, Flyover Country
, opens with her original, "Midwestern Gothic," a tune which shifts between serene reveries and pronouncements so bold they could fitswitch out the acoustic rhythm section and the saxophone for some muscular, loud electric guitarsinto an in-you-face heavy metal band. A fine way to open the show.
Gardier pares things down in comparison to her debut, Empathy
(Green Mind Records, 2018), where she employed a larger ensemble. The quartet approach suits her, giving her plenty of opportunities to break loose on the opener and its successor, "Boss Lady," a brash, foot-to-the-floorboard tune, with Gardier's alto sax riding the waves of Brendan Keller-Tuberg
's bouncing bass walk.
"Void" gives the band a chance to explore ballad territory, and for Gardier and pianist Ellie Pruneau
to display some beautifully intricate interplay with each other and with Keller-Tuberg's assertive bass, buoyed by the subtle exhortations of drummer Carrington Clinton
"Buddy" is a jaunty marchit makes a great dance tuneand "40 Tattoos" plays out as a pensive, dark-hued rumination, with Pruneau shining elegantly, then urgently, on her solo.
All the tunes here are Gardier originals. She writes a fine melody, and she and her band execute the music with finesse. The ebullient title tune features the leader on soprano, showcasing a clean and distinctive straight-horn tone, and the closer, "Sea Day," surges gently, wrapping things up on perhaps the loveliest of the album's compositions.
Midwestern Gothic; Boss Lady; Void; Buddy; 40 Tattoos; Hidden; Red-Headed Uncle; Flyover Country; Sea Day.