Sheryl Bailey: For All Those Living (2011)
In the past, guitarist Sheryl Bailey has been an embodiment of versatility through her work with bassist Richard Bona, and with David Krakauer's klezmer ensemble. She now has another strain of music in her bag with this program of straight-ahead jazz guitar. Both Pat Martino and Wes Montgomery can be cited as reference points for this outing, but the fact remains that Bailey brings her own not inconsiderable character to bear. The featured quartet is Bailey's current working group, and the mutual knowledge this implies is in abundance, as it works its way through a program of Bailey originals.
The title track is a thing of no little urbanity, but both Bailey and pianist Jim Ridl, who has worked with Martino in the past, turn in solos with enough bite and fire to keep the soporific at bay. In her solo the leader shows also how au fait she is with the modern jazz guitar vocabulary.
"29-11" is taken at a sedate tempo, but again the quartet's musical empathy makes for something which catches the ear. Ridl is a fleet-fingered player whose lines often do not resolve in the anticipated way; on this track his work is that of a man who knows he's in convivial company. When it's her turn to blow, Bailey doesn't merely take the temperature down a little; instead, she burns on a flame of a different hue, which makes for a more varied musical experience.
Bailey has worked as one half of a guitar duo with Jack Wilkins in the past, which provides the clue for the inspiration behind "Wilkinsburg." As with all the music here, it's in the pocket from the beginning, with Ridl again turning in some variations which hold the attention. Bailey by contrast could almost be singing through her guitar, so natural do her lines sound. It's notable too how the bass and drums duo of Gary Wang and Shingo Okudaira are right there with the two main soloists, their contributions making for an unassuming yet cohesive musical experience overall.
Sheryl Bailey is one of those jazz guitarists to whom the work comes as naturally as drinking coffee, and with this quartet she has a unit which delivers the music most persuasively. Not a momentor indeed a noteis wasted.
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 Ridl: piano; Gary Wang: bass; Shingo Okudaira: drums.