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Sherman Irby: Faith

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.”

Irby is assisted by associates with a wealth of experience, both on their own and with him. Pianist Larry Willis, drummer Willie Jones III and bassist Gerald Cannon, all strong in their own right, know what the altoist needs, and they provide it. (Percussionist Khalil Kwame Bell guests on one track.)

Originally Published