Steps of Faith
Tenor saxophonist Greg Tardy’s styles of composing and improvising are often harmonically cryptic in the manner of Wayne Shorter, yet not distractingly derivative—Shorter’s templates allow for a great deal of latitude, and Tardy takes advantage. His tenor sound is dense, his phrasing frequently blunt, and his choice of notes often attractively unencumbered by harmonic convention. He’s joined on Steps of Faith by a group consisting of trumpeter Marcus Printup, alto saxophonist Logan Richardson, pianist Luis Perdomo, bassist Sean Conly and drummer Jaimeo Brown (Tardy’s mother, Joanne Tardy, sings on one track).
Aside from the leader, Printup is the most interesting soloist. The trumpeter plays with a lithe assuredness, tight focus and an agreeably pliable tone. Perdomo and the stridently lyrical Richardson have nice moments as well, but ultimately it’s Tardy’s show. Not only is he arguably the most original of the band’s improvisers, he’s also the most impassioned. His lines are incisive and hard-edged. Even his most fanciful flights are purposeful. His energetic approach consistently lifts the group’s performance to a higher level. Were his sidemen able to match him in terms of intensity, this would’ve been a killer. As it is, it’s simply quite good.