Tenor saxophonist Gregory Tardy continues to rise in prominence as both a sideman and a leader. His fourth solo outing (and his first on the Palmetto label) features a dazzling quartet, with George Colligan
on piano, Sean Conly
on bass, and Woody Williams
on drums and percussion. Altoist Miguel Zenon makes an appearance (and solos first) on the raucous opener, "Plan B." As has been the case on Tardy
's previous albums, there's a pronounced religious theme, particularly in the written acknowledgements and on "Warring Spirits," a three-part suite inspired by specific biblical passages. Consisting of a polyrhythmic, vamp-based improvisation sandwiched between two rubato sections, the suite is played with tremendous emotion but comes across as derivative of Coltrane -- indeed, it's hard to escape Coltrane's shadow when explicitly infusing jazz with a devotional message. Tardy
displays far greater originality on his waltz, "Talkative Tucker," and even his reading of "The Very Thought of You," played as a duo with Colligan. He opts for soprano on his Latin-tinged "Iconoclasm" and plays clarinet beautifully on Conly's mysterious 5/4 piece "Nene's Way." Colligan, who threatens to steal the show on nearly every track, contributes the full-tilt "Nebulosity" (which also appeared on his Unresolved album). Tardy
's "Educated Guesswork," a sly commentary on "Giant Steps," concludes the program. Despite its flaws, Abundance
is a hugely rewarding listen.