Highly regarded bassist Avery Sharpe has been a first-call session musician due to his long affiliation with pianist McCoy Tyner
and others of note. Moreover, he's a viable solo artist, evidenced here on this multicolored 2009 piano trio venture. Sharpe is the traffic director here, though it's a democratic engagement, comprised of covers and original compositions, all enamored by a lithe framework consisting of jazz-induced soul, funk, swing and other genre-fusing stylizations.
The trio often projects a flotation-like soundscape. On "Autumn Moonlight" Sharpe's wordless vocals serve as an additional instrument in harmony with pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs' melodic inventions, all shaded with a Brazilian hue. Even when the band swings hard and navigates through complex unison phrasings, it makes it all sound effortless. Yet it can also lower the temperature, as on the quaint ballad, "Palace Of The Seven Jewels."
Sharpe's rendition of trumpet great Woody Shaw's "Organ Grinder" is a strong vehicle for Gumbs, who re-engineers the primary theme via his fluent improvisational excursions. However, the bassist takes center stage on numerous pieces via his booming, earthen-toned lines, and lyrically charged solo spots. Gumbs' lower register block chords offer a fertile underpinning for drummer Winard Harper's explosive solo on "Intrepid Warrior," where the band generates high-heat and pulls out the proverbial stops.
It's a congenial studio date, as Sharpe pitches an upbeat vibe that casts a divergent outlook without any hint of pretension. Expertly performed, the musicians also transmit a synergistic group-centric aura. It's easy to discern that a good time was had by all during the session and that notion alone conveys one of the many redeeming traits of this indubitably engaging album.
Personnel: Avery Sharpe: acoustic bass, voice; Onaje Allan Gumbs: piano; Winard Harper: drums, percussion.