Grant Stewart

Young at Heart

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Grant Stewart's second release for Sharp Nine is a solid effort, featuring the big-toned tenor saxophonist accompanied by some of the regulars for the label, including pianist Tardo Hammer, bassist Peter Washington, and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Part of the fun is the leader's interest in lesser known tunes, such as the whirlwind performance ofDuke Ellington's "Serenade to Sweden" (debuted in 1939 and played sporadically until the end of the composer's career) and Elmo Hope's twisting bop vehicle "Roll On." He throws a curve by beginning the ballad "Young at Heart" in a majestic though low-key manner, then turning it into a mid-tempo cooker with great backing by Hammer. His tribute to the late alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, "Tribute to Jackie Mac," is a deliberately obvious reworking of the changes to "Sweet Georgia Brown," though he spices it up with references to Miles Davis' "Dig" and the changes to John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." His lush setting of the bossa nova "Modinha" in a heartfelt performance is another example of his maturity as an artist.

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