(Outside In Music)
On Clarity, her second recording as a leader for the Posi-Tone label, saxophonist and flutist Alexa Tarantino reveals maturity and confidence as both a player and a bandleader, switching among instruments and idioms with ease. “When you quiet your mind,” she quotes Alice Coltrane in the album’s liner notes, “you can enter a world of clarity, peace and understanding.” Whether this is achievement or aspiration for Tarantino, the reed player seems quite comfortable out front of a sturdy yet flexible quartet, playing original and classic material that’s alternately meditative and hard driving. The nine-song set begins with the self-penned “Through,” included here, on which Tarantino exclusively plays flute, a gutsy move for someone primarily known as a saxophonist. Free-flowing and modal, the tune is anchored by the earthbound rhythms of bassist Joe Martin and drummer Rudy Royston, with Steven Feifke’s piano providing counterpoint throughout. Tarantino proves an agile and compelling flutist, and the opener serves almost as a palate-cleansing prelude before she dives into the heated bop of the following track. With all the album’s material written during the past year, Clarity presents a clear snapshot of Tarantino at the place and time of its recording.