Faith, released on Irby’s own Black Warrior label, is the altoist’s second album since his initial two recordings for Blue Note in 1997 and 1998. A veteran of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra and the bands of Roy Hargrove and Elvin Jones, Irby is a self-assured player with a soft-edged tone, a gift for melody and a firm sense of swing. His self-confidence is demonstrated in his performance of Jobim’s “Wave,” which he treats not as the usual medium or uptempo bossa nova but as a rubato, romantic ballad where the venerable melody is always evident. He reserves his own considerable melodic skills for his ballads “You’re Worth the Wait” and “You’re Still You.” Irby finds a comfortable groove on the medium-tempo “Hope” but develops a powerful momentum on the racing “Rare Taste.”
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