190

Avery Sharpe: Dragon Fly

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Avery Sharpe: Dragon Fly Best-known for his longstanding relationship with pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Avery Sharpe has released three albums to date that feature him mixing it up with a sounds ranging from gospel/groove to straight-ahead. But while he has made his name in Tyner's piano trio format, Dragon Fly is the first time Sharpe has explored that configuration for a project of his own.

To some extent Sharpe is all about contrast. "Oh No!'? starts with a complex head carried in unison by Sharpe and his trio, featuring pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs and drummer Winard Harper, before shifting into a swing at a breakneck speed that would challenge any soloist; but Gumbs rises to the occasion, Harper shadowing his every move. "Swingfield,'? on the other hand, is a lightly funky tune with Sharpe stating the theme on electric bass. The title track alternates between an intense and foreboding passage with Sharpe's searing arco and a lighter theme where Sharpe switches to pizzicato and plays counterpoint with Gumbs.

There is little doubt that this is a bassist's album. Much like Marcus Miller, Sharpe is for the most part the primary thematic voice and unquestionably dominant, while others get solo space. Like Miller, however, Sharpe sometimes runs the risk of monotony; while there is nothing inherently wrong with the bass as a lead instrument, there are times when a little more democracy in sharing the melodic load would give the album a broader reach. And there are times when Sharpe's attempts at rapid-fire electric bass lines seem to barely make it, as if he is testing the very boundaries of his ability. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but where a bassist like Miller makes such endeavours feel effortless, with Sharpe you can feel him working for it, perhaps too much so.

Still, there is plenty to recommend on Dragon Fly. Guest vocalist Jeri Brown delivers a restrained reading of "My Favourite Things,'? drawing her phrases out over Sharpe's metrically altered and reharmonized backdrop; even her scat solo over the more intensely swinging middle section is a beautiful example of control—the rhythm section going for it in an unbridled fashion, Brown remaining authoritative yet subtle. On saxophonist Chico Freeman's "Evolution,'? Sharpe finally takes more of a backseat rhythm section role, giving the majority of the space to guest Freeman.

As fine a bassist as Sharpe is, the album has a bit too much of the feeling that he is out to prove something. Other bassist-led bands, specifically Dave Holland's longstanding quintet and big band, comfortably balance the rhythm section responsibilities of the instrument with the inarguable virtuosity of the leader; but with Dragon Fly Sharpe is too overbearing. The best groups may have an acknowledged leader but are, at the end of the day, democratic environments where no one instrument dominates. With Dragon Fly Sharpe proves his formidable ability, but in a context that ultimately places him too consistently front and centre.

Visit Avery Sharpe on the web.


Track Listing: Oh No!; Swingfield; Dragon Fly; Protect Me; Morning Glow; My Favourite Things; Now That

Personnel: Avery Sharpe (acoustic bass, 6-string electric bass, 4-string electric bass), Onaje Allan Gumbs (piano), Winard Harper (drums)
with Jeri Brown (vocals on

Title: Dragon Fly | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: JKNM Records


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read The Attic CD/LP/Track Review The Attic
by John Sharpe
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Outside The Comfort Zone CD/LP/Track Review Outside The Comfort Zone
by Roger Farbey
Published: July 24, 2017
Read # 1 CD/LP/Track Review # 1
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Tetrawind CD/LP/Track Review Tetrawind
by Geannine Reid
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Triplicate CD/LP/Track Review Triplicate
by Doug Collette
Published: July 24, 2017
Read Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs CD/LP/Track Review Ballet: The Music Of Michael Gibbs
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 23, 2017
Read "Insufficient Funs" CD/LP/Track Review Insufficient Funs
by Ian Patterson
Published: January 12, 2017
Read "The Picasso Zone" CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read "No Filter" CD/LP/Track Review No Filter
by Mark F. Turner
Published: January 11, 2017
Read "57th & 9th" CD/LP/Track Review 57th & 9th
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 6, 2016
Read "Sélébéyone" CD/LP/Track Review Sélébéyone
by Karl Ackermann
Published: August 7, 2016
Read "Live At Blues Alley" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Blues Alley
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 4, 2016

Support All About Jazz: MAKE A PURCHASE  

Support our sponsor

Upgrade Today!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.

Donate!