Of the many stars to have emerged on the jazz horizon during the '90s, one of the most disciplined, emotive and perhaps underrated is the multifaceted Gregory Tardy. The Truth finds him leading a stellar quintet with trumpeter Marcus Printup, pianist Helen Sung, the propulsive bassist Sean Conly, and the talented drummer Jaimeo Brown.
As evinced in the liner notes and in the titles of the five compositions penned by Tardy, the saxophonist is a deeply religious man who finds inspiration in his faith and strives "to glorify God in his music. Despite the religious overtones in the notes and the passionate performances of all concerned, this music is for people of all faiths and persuasions. The set starts out with the bright original "Yeshua (Hebrew for Jesus) and segues into the striking Tardy ballad "Who Has Believed Our Message," a perfect vehicle for Sung's deft piano. Tardy shows his emotional depth and the broad scope of his talents both as a player and a writer on "The Way, The Truth, The Life and "Love Never Fails," a moving tribute to his wife.
The traditional "Wade In The Water gets a spirited reworking by Tardy and associates and finds them stretching out to deliver one of the album's best moments. Based on a recurring bass riff reminiscent of Cedar Walton's "Bolivia," this modern rendition breathes new life into a classic spiritual and features Tardy soloing with fire and inspiring equally burning statements from Printup, Sung and Brown. Following another original ballad, "As The World Rejoices," are a cover of Steve Fry's contemporary gospel piece "Jesus You Are My Life and two up-tempo tunes, "Rhythm Form and "Cheetah," both by Tardy's collaborator/mentor Tom Harrell, which find the quintet venturing into avant-garde territory.
With this release, his first on SteepleChase, Tardy takes another step toward establishing himself as one of the most important saxophonists of his generation. It was Keats who famously linked truth and beauty in his "Ode to a Grecian Urn, and the two are inseparable here.
Yeshua; Who Has Believed Our Message; The Way, The Truth, The Life; Love Never Fails;
Wade In The Water; As The World Rejoices; Rhythm Form; Jesus You Are My Life; Cheetah.
Gregory Tardy: tenor saxophone; Marcus Printup: trumpet; Helen Sung: piano; Sean Conly:
bass; Jaimeo Brown: drums.
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