Guitarist Sheryl Bailey is chameleon-like in her ability to bring inventive coloration to traditional forms. She has released a sizzling guitar goddess CD, Little Misunderstood;
a bluesy dual guitar follow-up, Reunion of Souls;
and adds highly original stylings to David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness. Her latest recording, The Power of 3,
further broadens this diversity by featuring nine new Bailey originals in the context of a traditional Hammond B-3 organ trio. The one constant in all this variety is one hell of a guitarist. The Power of 3
is presented as a gathering to celebrate the consummate B-3/guitar pairings of Jimmy Smith/Wes Montgomery, Dr. Lonnie Smith/George Benson, Grant Green/Larry Young and others. The SB3 easily accomplishes this undertaking without falling into the obvious trap of becoming too syrupy. Bailey then goes a step further and expands the genre by offering up catchy original melodies that allow her to improvise with her bandmates, Gary Versace on the B-3 and Ian Froman on drums.
"Starbrite" opens the session with fun fat guitar, sandwiching Versace's organ, straying into Ray Manzarek's "Soul Kitchen" before heading back to Bailey's initial groove. Versace plays the B-3 the way it should be on the funky but chic "Ray's Way," with Bailey providing chordal backdrop before flaunting some nice licks of her own. "Something Blue," with its punchout beginning, trademark flying fingered fretwork, and clear crisp runs, is evidence that Sheryl Bailey has the maturity to move from center stage to chordmistress and back again.
Two very personal moments are also shared. "Death Toll," written 9/11/01, has a free-formish beginning that melds into a bluesy mood and then surprisingly finds a forward looking and upbeat melody. "(Until You) Return To Me," through its use of intriguing chords, imparts an innermost solitude that allows organ and guitar to meld and then switch off each other. With The Power of 3,
Sheryl Bailey has reinforced her status as one of NYC's best young guitarists and in the process emerged as a skillful session leader.
This review originally appeared in All About Jazz-New York
Personnel: Ian Froman - Drums
Gary Versace - Hammond B-3 Organ
Sheryl Bailey - Guitar