On Chillin’ at the Point, Tom Fitzpatrick approaches the compositions and repertoire of, among others, Stanley Turrentine, Roland Kirk, and David “Fathead” Newman. That’s a very particular kind of pantheon—these are all saxophonists’ saxophonists, known for their mastery of the instrument itself as much as for their innovation in various styles and idioms. That alone makes Chillin’ something of a misnomer, because as soon as Fitzpatrick echoes Turrentine’s famous Texas tenor growl on “Too Blue,” it’s clear that this is an ambitious undertaking. Switching between tenor, alto and soprano saxophones on the album, Fitzpatrick gives the listener the essence of the material he’s working with and the performers who made it familiar, and maintains his own tone and phrasing.
Standing out among such an impressively curated songbook is the title track, an original composition. It’s a departure that feels like a misstep for Fitzpatrick here. It’s lighter and smoother than the other tracks, and doesn’t give the band as much opportunity to dig in. It’s still a solid performance, and particularly nice for all the room it gives Todd Duke’s guitar, but it’s out of place on the album. Chillin’ at the Point is memorable for Fitzpatrick’s tribute to a wide range of saxophone styles and for his own role and contribution as a stylist.