By Herb Boyd | Published August 2020
Half the tunes on Alexa Tarantino’s Clarity, her second leader date, are compositions she penned, but all of them are delivered in a calm, swinging groove. And her riffs sometimes settle to the bottom of the horn, where they merge gleefully with Rudy Royston’s tom-toms—check out “A Unified Front.”
Tarantino brackets the album with her fabulous flute, opening with a flourish on “Through,” where she more than heeds pianist Steven Feifke’s gentle guidance, and closes with the rich resonance of her alto flute on “My Ship.” The alto saxophone is Tarantino’s principal instrument, but she’s more than adequate on soprano, and her treatment of Horace Silver’s “Gregory Is Here” proves it. Even so, on “A Race Against Yourself,” her bebop fluency on alto holds sway, and again comes into play on “La Puerta.” The cadenza on this ballad is an opportunity to hear Tarantino unadorned and full of, let’s say, clarity. The wait for Royston to break out with one of his rousing solos ends on “Karma,” and that rumble of complexity is modified and modulated throughout to meet the variety of Tarantino’s musical tendencies.
There’s no sophomore jinx with this second disc from Tarantino, and it’s a good bet that the third will be even more charmed.
Clarity: Through; A Race Against Yourself; La Puerta; A Unified Front; Gregory Is Here; Karma; Breaking Cycles; Thank You For Your Silence; My Ship. (46:27)
Personnel: Alexa Tarantino, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, alto flute; Steven Feifke, piano; Joe Martin, bass; Rudy Royston, drums.