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Sheryl Bailey: Homage

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Sheryl Bailey: Homage
Homage, Sheryl Bailey's 12th outing as a leader, is a welcome and well deserved musical love letter to the late, great Pat Martino. The opening track, with one of the great song titles in instrumental music history, "The Velvet Hammer," was written for Martino, and the decision to have keyboardist Miki Hayama play the Fender Rhodes throughout harkens back to one of Martino's masterpieces with Gil Goldstein, We'll Be Together Again (Muse, 1976).

But make no mistake, Bailey is a formidable player and composer in her own right, as she shows consistently through this highly recommended disc. The company she keeps here speaks to that, with the aforementioned and delightful Miki Hayama on keys, Harvie S on bass, sounding supple and supportive, and the fresh and inventive Neil Smith at the drums. The music is singular, compelling, cerebral and visceral, as the best modern jazz always is.

The title track starts with a few notes arpeggiated on Bailey's bright guitar and then the band joins in with a hip, light, swing feel, then into a triplet sort-of-Afro-Latin groove and back to swing. This is modern music that's rooted in the jazz tradition and just plain feels good, and Bailey's solos swing, burn and take interesting left turns. "Walk Up" sounds like the title suggests and here the groove is samba and the mood is festive.

"Exit," another of the many stand-out tracks on this recording starts with a free jazz opening, reminiscent of Pat Martino's tune of the same name, which also starts free. On her "Exit," Bailey shows a different side, and her broad and wide range with some great wah-wah electric sounds over the hard grooving rhythm section where Neil Smith really gets down and again shows his great accompaniment skills. Then before you know it, the band is swinging again.

There is a cohesion to this music, a uniformity of sound. This is not a standards recital where the musicians meet in the studio and play a couple choruses and familiar routines over the same old tunes, in the same old way, but rather a collection of new music played by what sounds like a well rehearsed band of players coming together to contribute something new to the music.

Bravo to all involved in this great new music, and kudos to Trading 8's Recording Studio in New Jersey where this music was engineered by Chris Sulit and mixed and mastered by Harvie S and David Kowalski. The recording quality is impeccable.

Track Listing

The Velvet Hammer; Walk Up; A Fine Vine; Lazy Dazy; Open Sesame; The Search For New Light; 144; Exit.

Personnel

Harvie S
bass, acoustic

Album information

Title: Homage | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: PureMusic Records

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