|It would not be a stretch to call Grant Stewart an international jazz nomad. Stewart was born in Canada and moved to New York City at nineteen. During his career, he has recorded for labels that read like a UN roll call, including French, Japanese, Spanish and Dutch imprints. In The Still Of The Night is his first release as a leader on an American label.
The tenor saxophonist receives support from drummer Joe Farnsworth, bassist Peter Washington and pianist Tardo Hammer. The members of this collective, although not a working band, have all played with Stewart, and their cohesion comes through on this release. The disc does not contain any Stewart originals, but it does provide inviting selections with challenging arrangements and sharp performances.
The influence of Sonny Rollins can readily be heard in Stewart’s style, but Stewart has parlayed this into his own distinctive sound. His modernist bent is in evidence on the opening title track, which opens with a Farnsworth solo and then allows Stewart to cut through at breathtaking speed and with crystalline articulation. He also tackles two tunes associated with John Coltrane, “Lush Life” and “Theme For Ernie,” infusing the former with gorgeous tone and subtlety. He plays the latter piece, typically a ballad, at a medium tempo, featuring notable cymbal work by Farnsworth, who excels on the outing.
This top-flight performance marks Stewart as a saxophonist to watch. It may also mark the end of his nomadic recording days.