New Jersey-based tenor saxophonist Tom Tallitsch is one of the most interesting artists on the Posi-Tone label. He’s made three albums for them to date, and while his music is hard bop at its core, he’s always got a few genuine surprises up his sleeve. Most often, these come in the form of interpretations of rock tunes. He began this pattern when he recorded Stevie Wonder‘s “Visions” on 2005’s self-released Duality, dropped it for two albums, then picked it up again in earnest on his Posi-Tone discs. He closed 2012’s Heads or Tales with a mournful take on Neil Young‘s “Don’t Let It Bring You Down”; David Bowie‘s “Life on Mars” and Led Zeppelin‘s “Ten Years Gone” were reinterpreted on 2014’s Ride (probably his most satisfying album to date, recorded with trombonist Michael Dease, pianist Art Hirahara, bassist Peter Brendler and drummer Rudy Royston); and versions of the Band‘s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and George Duke‘s “Uncle Remus” (co-written with Frank Zappa) appeared on 2015’s All Together Now., which featured Dease, alto saxophonist Mike DiRubbo, pianist Brian Charette, Brendler, and drummer Mark Ferber.
His fourth Posi-Tone album, Gratitude, is out March 25. (Get it from Amazon.) The band includes pianist Jon Davis, Brendler on bass, and Royston on drums, and there’s a story behind its title. It was recorded in autumn 2015, just about six months after Tallitsch’s father died. It will be released two weeks after the anniversary of his passing, and two months after the birth of Tallitsch’s first child. He says, “I know that the creation of this album has been an essential part of the healing process as I move into new chapters in my life. It is a gift for me to be able to share it with you, and I am grateful for it. My hope is that while listening to the music you will pause to find peace and reflect on the things in your life that give you gratitude.”
Along with eight swinging, melodic Tallitsch originals, Gratitude contains a few interpretations of rock songs: the Beatles‘ “Because,” a gospelized version of Led Zeppelin‘s “Thank You,” and the track we’re premiering today, an atmospheric, melancholy reworking of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Gold Dust Woman.” On the latter two tracks, the core band is joined by Brian Charette on organ.
Tallitsch says of “Gold Dust Woman”:
“‘Gold Dust’ may be the one track that has little to no meaning on this album if you consider the original lyrics. I just love the basic chord changes and the idea of having a long, open vamping section for the band to open up on. During the times that I was on the road early last year, I just kept coming back to that track on the Rumours album. The song just hit me as a spacey vibe that we could really build as an ensemble. I arranged it originally for my All Together Now Sextet and performed it a handful of times with them throughout 2015. I think that I have a video of us somewhere that was taken from Birdland last spring.
“I knew that this particular rhythm section would eat it up. I always know that bassist Peter Brendler will know whatever rock tunes that I pick out. I wasn’t concerned at all about Jon and Rudy. How could you be? They are such amazing professionals and creators, that I knew they they would fit into any idea that was presented. Overall the band really dug playing it. Brian Charette was in for his session the day after mine and ended up laying down the organ track.”
Stream “Gold Dust Woman”: