Green Mind Records
Musicians who don’t live in major cities sometimes have a tough time establishing a reputation. But saxophonist Amanda Gardier, who teaches jazz saxophone at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, has still managed to support a variety of artists, including Dave Stryker, Wessell “Warmdaddy” Anderson, and Ingrid Jensen. And, if her second album, “Flyover Country,” is any indication, her career as a leader should soon be taking off. Right from the opening track, “Midwestern Gothic,” a wild combination of hard bop and funk, you know this is not your standard jazz outing. Not only did Gardier write every one of the nine distinctive tunes, her saxophone permeates the disc with inventive improvisation at every turn.
Gardier’s supporting crew is equally strong. Ellie Pruneau is excellent throughout on piano. Drummer Carrington Clinton and bassist Brendan Keller-Tuberg provide solid backing. Among the best tunes is one of the most deceptively simple. “Buddy” is underpinned by a two-chord vamp reminiscent of “Bennie and the Jets," but there’s no limit to the flights taken over it by Gardier and Pruneau. Although most of the compositions are uptempo, Gardier is also capable of writing beautiful ballads, including “Void” and the album’s gorgeous closer, “Sea Day.”