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Gregory Tardy: With Songs of Joy

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Gregory Tardy is an A-list sideman, accomplished on many reed instruments. On his own With Songs of Joy, he plays tenor saxophone exclusively. It is, loosely, a concept album. In the liner notes Tardy says it grew out of a “discouraging season” in his life, when he was troubled by violence in the world and increasing racial strife in America. His response to discouragement was to counteract it through his art and his religious faith.

Most of Tardy’s originals (“Ancient of Days,” “The Ebenezer Stone”) contain specific Biblical references. The album opens and closes with hymns. Robert Lowry’s “I Need Thee Every Hour” is from 1872, but is tense with contemporary discord and the restless energy of Jaimeo Brown’s drums. Andrae Crouch’s “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” is 85 years newer but more consonant, Tardy proclaiming over Sean Conly’s dramatic bass throbs.

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