As the lead tenor saxophonist with the U.S. Air Force’s Airmen of Note, Tedd Baker could be expected to be exceptional, and he is. His big muscular tone and perpetually moving lines produce hard-bop improvisations that grab the listener’s interest and generate intense emotion on burning tunes like “Fruit Through Tears.” On affecting ballads such as “Her Hands,” however, Baker proves capable of a pensive tenderness. The leader wrote all the music, including the Bob Mintzer-like jazz-rock “Release Date,” where his tenor solo suggests Mintzer, some blues and other well-crafted instrumental miniatures.
The players—pianist Harry Appelman, drummer Clyde Adams II, trumpeter Deandre Shaifer, altoist Lyle Link and bassist Kris Funn—are from the Washington, D.C. area, and most are seasoned veterans. (Funn has been playing with Kenny Garrett, for example.) They do a fine job of executing Baker’s sophisticated charts, both as an ensemble and as individual soloists.