Young lion Greg Tardy shares his enthusiasm and modern mainstream approach with support from pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Reginald Veal, and drummer Eric Harland. The tenor saxophonist leads his ensemble in a session of standards and originals, showing a preference for the excitement of hard bop rhythms and its inherent variety of brash harmonies.
Russell Gunn guests on "Blues to Professor Pickens" with a deeply rooted trumpet solo filled with earthy emotion. Tardy and Miller maintain an "old blues" mood. Pianist Aaron Goldberg guests on "JL's Wish" to open the delicate ballad, which Tardy wrote and uses for an opportunity to express himself in lyrical terms. Charged for the up-tempo pieces and somewhat cool for the ballads, Tardy captures the mood of hard bop's offspring. Monk's "Ask Me Now," performed with only saxophone and bass, reveals Tardy's lyrical approach to a melody. He fills and embellishes, never running out of ideas. That, perhaps, is the one area needing further emphasis – Tardy fills his solo spots with so many ideas that the clear focus at times seems to become clouded.
Trumpeter Tom Harrell guests on Tardy's ballad "The Fractar Question" which allows for pert solos from each of the like-minded horn players; not afraid to stretch, the saxophonist finds himself in good company for exploring the modern mainstream frontier. Recommended.