All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

234

Grant Stewart: Young at Heart

David A. Orthmann By

Sign in to view read count
Since moving from Toronto to New York at age 19, Grant Stewart has spent 15 years dutifully toiling in the city's jazz underground. Only over the past few years have we begun to hear some worthy examples of the tenor saxophonist's labor—a release under his name for Criss Cross, a pair on the same label by Reeds and Deeds (a band he co-leads with Eric Alexander), and a couple on the Video Arts imprint. Although all of these discs are worth your discretionary income and time, 2007's In the Still of the Night (Sharp Nine) was a career-defining recording. From shrewd choices in material, a crack rhythm section, to Stewart's glowing solos, it was one of those rare instances in which everything came together in a near perfect manner.



Sharp Nine owner/producer Marc Edelman wasted no time getting Stewart back in the studio, and he wisely decided there was no need to retool a winning formula. On Young at Heart, once again, Stewart is joined by pianist Tardo Hammer, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Joe Farnsworth.

The record is every bit as good as its predecessor in part because of Stewart's ability to sound at ease and establish his own identity on different kinds of material and at various tempos. There's stability and depth to his playing that sets him apart from a host of well-known, thirty-something tenor stylists who blow convoluted to a fault.



The tenor saxophonist's thoughtful interpretations of songs by Duke Ellington, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Neal Hefti, and others are complete in themselves. He lingers on the melodies instead of merely using them as a springboard for improvisation. Throughout the head of the title track, for example, Stewart deliberately moves thorough Hammer's lively accompaniment. A subdued rendition of "You're My Thrill" conveys a quiet resignation.



Stewart's style of improvising is fresh, uncluttered, and cliche free. On medium and up tempo tracks like "Roll On," "Serenade to Sweden," "Shades of Jackie Mac," and "Jet Stream," he invariably plays a steady, evenly paced stream of ideas. One favorite device is burrowing into the rhythm section's thrust for an extended period before briefly easing up and gliding over them. Throughout the ballad "Modinha," Stewart's gift for spontaneous melodic invention is more pronounced, and so is his dramatic range. At one important juncture, he falls silent for what feels like an eternity before reaching a brief climax.


Track Listing: Young at Heart; You're My Thrill; Roll On; Shades of Jackie Mac; Repetition; Serenade to Sweden; Modinha; Jet Stream.

Personnel: Grant Stewart: tenor saxophone; Tardo Hammer: piano; Peter Washington: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums.

Title: Young at Heart | Year Released: 2008 | Record Label: Sharp Nine Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read My Singing Fingers CD/LP/Track Review
My Singing Fingers
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Ain't It Grand? CD/LP/Track Review
Ain't It Grand?
by Jack Bowers
Published: May 25, 2018
Read If Not Now, When? CD/LP/Track Review
If Not Now, When?
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Perfectly Unhappy CD/LP/Track Review
Perfectly Unhappy
by Gareth Thompson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Sorrows & Triumphs CD/LP/Track Review
Sorrows & Triumphs
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 25, 2018
Read Half Light CD/LP/Track Review
Half Light
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 24, 2018
Read "Akua's Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 9, 2017
Read "The Source" CD/LP/Track Review The Source
by Mark Sullivan
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969 - 1984" CD/LP/Track Review J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969 - 1984
by Chris May
Published: March 15, 2018
Read "I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert" CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Full Tilt" CD/LP/Track Review Full Tilt
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 7, 2018
Read "Contrast" CD/LP/Track Review Contrast
by David A. Orthmann
Published: April 1, 2018