A good dose of personal humility and devotion to a higher power can de-clutter the life and chosen form of artistic expression. In the case of pianist Sharp Radway, who comes to his gospel jazz from early musical endeavors in the church, a pure spirit of artistic expression is revealed on his debut, Hymns and Things (Introspection and Reflection).
Radway mixes solo piano, piano trio and two-horn frontline quintet offeringsvery adeptly sequencedinto an engaging and cohesive set of that speaks eloquently to the CD's subtitle. The solemn solo opener, "Sweet Hour of Prayer," gives way to the ebullient jubilation of "Savior, Like a Sheppard Lead Us," featuring saxophonists James Spaulding and Greg Tardy, both sounding like they have the spirit in themand the joy and verve to bring a congregation dancing out of the pews.
"He Looked Beyond My Faults," an inspiration for the Irish staple "Danny Boy," puts Radway's patient, supple touch and dynamic control into play, while "Leaning on Everlasting Arms," a trio offering, bounces and swings, with Radway sounding crisp in front of a shuffling rhythm.
Spaulding (on flute) and Tardy (on tenor saxophone) rejoin the core trio on "Your Decrees," taking the music into very soulful territory. Tardy's raw sound contrasts beautifully with Spaulding's silky trills. "His Eye on the Sparrow" finds Radway going it solo once again, opening up with a pensive and reverent feeling, slipping in flourishes, then building momentum and moving into a brief stride groove that eases back from the rent party to the church.
The pie chart of the art of the pianists can be sliced from anatomical origins in the head, the heart, the gut and, on Hymns and Things especially, the soul. With a humble outlook and coming from a spiritual home base, Radway has crafted a particularly fine personal statement with this debut.
Track Listing: Sweet Hour of Prayer; Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us; My Faith Looks Up to Thee; He Looked Beyond My Faults; Leaning on Everlasting Arms; Thank You, Lord; Your Decrees; His Eye Is On the Sparrow; Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross; My Tribute (To God the Glory).
I grew up listening to my father's Jazz records and listening to radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's Jazz records and listening to radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.