The Sheryl Bailey 4: For All Those Living (2011)
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Wes Montgomery may be gone, but the great jazz guitarist's crisp, rich-toned sound lives on in Sheryl Bailey, whose style is so reminiscent of the icon, but whose technique has also been compared to that of Pat Martino. It is quite clear that Bailey is a gifted guitarist as well as a veteran musician, with several albums to her credit. Bailey has performed in many formats throughout her career, yet For All Those Living, is her first to lead a traditional rhythm quartet. The result is a session of delicious straight-ahead jazz with piano, bass and drum accompaniment led by her truly inspiring guitar work.
Leading the music with sharp riffs and tasty soloing throughout the set, the eight-piece repertoire also reveals her talents as a writer, with clever and innovative original compositions making a decidedly positive musical statement. "An Unexpected Turn" is the perfect opening title for this unexpectedly brilliant turn of an album. The piece is highlighted by brisk guitar work and dazzling piano lines from Jim Ridl with whom Bailey collaborates with many times throughout the set. The title track is a melancholic waltz dedicated to those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, the memories and healing process of which are championed by the guitarist as a theme of the album.
Many of Bailey's compositions are straight dedications to friends and fellow musicians such as "A Muse Sings," for the late Jimmy Wyble, which allows bassist Gary Wang a few bright moments, and "Masa's Bag" penned for guitarist Masa Sasaki. Other tribute pieces also include "Wilkinsburg," for her frequent guitar duo partner Jack Wilkins, and the closing "Moblin," a swinging number in dedication to hard bop/soul jazz tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, who inspired the soul and swing side of the guitarist, a taste of which is included on this disc.
A professor at Boston's Berklee College of Music, Bailey also lends her skills as an instructor at the Ronald McDonald House in association with the New York Pops. In keeping with the healing message of the album, this social-minded guitarist decided to contribute twenty percent of the album sales to the McDonald House. A worthy cause, of course, but it's Bailey's handiwork and the caliber of her music that illuminates this gem of a recording, and makes For All Those Living a rich and enjoyable musical experience not easily forgottenand that's by design.
Track Listing: An Unexpected Turn; For All Those Living; A Muse Sings; Masa's Bag; 29-11; Wilkinsburg; For a Russian Princess; Moblin.
Personnel: Sheryl Bailey: guitar; Jim Ridi: piano; Gary Wang: bass; Shingo Okudaira: drums.
Record Label: Self Produced