By Edward Kliszus
The Alexa Tarantino Quartet made the scene at the Birdland Jazz Club. Alto saxophonist Tarantino brings the Bird back to Birdland with her smooth, mellow sound. She’s cool, relaxed, and versatile as she solos and trades with the best of them, allowing everyone to speak their own musical voices to songs in a great groove. She draws us into her world of energy, excitement, and romance. Her sound is soulful, rich, and as subtle and formidable as she commands.
The songs displayed Tarantino’s facility just as they honored and evoked the spirit and soul of jazz giants of the past. A force of musical power, Alexa Tarantino stands among the newest generation of artists hitting today’s jazz scene, like Marisa Licata, Amina Figarova, Camila Meza, and Naama Gherber. Artists like these ensure that the legacy of jazz brought to the forefront by Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, and John Coltrane (to name a few) lives on, evolves, and enriches our lives.
The night started with bassist Sam Jones’ song Unit 7 made famous by Cannonball Adderly.
Tarantino announced their latest album Firefly. We heard Violet Sky, A Race Against Yourself, and many more tonight.
Bassist Philip Norris soloed often and effectively. He has mastered the use of the full range and sounds of the instrument and demonstrated his ability to play a melody while accompanying himself on the lower strings. His deft fingers are lightning-fast and employ the full range of sounds, including sumptuous harmonics.
Drummer Rudy Royston is rhythmically solid and sensitive to the work of his three co-artists. His tasty ideas fit the music and verse while supporting the overall intent of the music. His solos inspired great audience responses.
Pianist Steven Feifke plays a large role in accompanying and interacting with Tarantino. He uses the full range and power of the piano while sensitively adorning and simultaneously reacting to the artistry of Tarantino’s sounds and musical ideas. He deftly mixes be-bop, contemporary jazz styles, and blues into his solo and ensemble work. His be-bop unisons with Tarantino bring back an era of musical virtuosity not often heard.
Tarantino gleefully announced her upcoming 30th birthday, the big 30, as it were. She had more news when chatting after the show. She and pianist Steven Feifke were recently engaged to be married.
Follow Alexa Tarantino’s calendar to see and hear her in person.
Runtime 90 minutes
Birdland Jazz Club
315 W 44th St #5402
New York, NY 10036