Tom Tallitsch – Gratitude (2016)

Share this:

Last spring tenor sax ace Tom Tallitsch put forth his seventh album Gratitude, comprising mostly of songs gestated during a particularly reflective time in his life, a roughly yearlong span during which he lost his father and became one himself. Tallitsch has never been known as someone who composed or played without earnest emotion, so the extra motivation put his personal investment this time on another level.

Adding to the mojo of Gratitude (Posi-Tone Records) is arguably the most potent lineup on a Tallitsch record yet: Jon Davis (piano), Peter Brendler (bass), Rudy Royston (drums) and for a couple of cuts, Brian Charette on the B3.

For “Terrain” (video of live performance above) Royston is explosive out the gate, and Tallitsch contrasts with a laid back, soul-drenched manner. Davis takes over and matches Royston’s fire with some smoldering licks of his own. “Refuge” has classic post-bop tune written all over it though it’s a Tallitsch original. It alternately bops and swings in equally authoritative measure and Davis again nearly steals the show. “Kindred Soul” is another sweet sack of soul jazz, and Royston again makes hay while Tallitsch shows off the kind of classic tenor tone that’s made so many fall in love with jazz over the years; Brendler leaves behind an especially poetic bass solo.

“Northeast” is a slight downshift from the feistier numbers which shows Tallitsch’s a gift for getting the most mileage from his pretty melody while “Rust Belt” is a pretty good demonstration of Royston’s aptitude make a song funky in a jazzy way. Brendler binds to the sophisticated rhythm and the two make Tallitsch’s and Davis’ work easier.

“Ghost Dust Woman” continues Tallitsch penchant for selecting a few classic rock songs and putting his own stamp on it while respecting the original melody, and Charette’s organ adds a dash of emotional heft. Charette’s gospel organ swell on Led Zeppelin’s “Thank You” turns this acoustic rocker into a Sunday Morning chant and the Abbey Road deep cut Because” is a given a more passionate, somewhat turbulent reading in Tallitsch’s hands.

Then again, anything in Tallitsch’s hands seems to turn into post-bop gold. That’s because he always writes and arranges with finesse, enlists a top drawer backing band and owns a vintage tenor sax sound and phraseology. With these ingredients all present in Gratitude, it’s just hard to go wrong with this record.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron
Share this:
Close