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Jesse Sharps and the Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra: Sharps and Flats

Rex  Butters By

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Nimbus West reached into the vault for Sharps and Flats to pull out sessions by Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra leader, composer, and reedist Jesse Sharps. The program features six tracks with quintet recorded in '85, followed by a warm chunk of '79 PAPA playing a Sharps composition live. The music is rich and urbane, unafraid of appealing melodies and varying time signatures.

Opening with "The Goat and the Ramjam, snaky bass and a light piña colada piano from Nate Morgan set the stage for Steve Smith and Sharps' scaling the arrangement veering in mood from sunny to exotic. Burnette rings the changes joyfully, Morgan's lyrical side goes for a ride preceding Sharps' solo, itself swinging between sweet and scorching. A gutsy baritone leads the charge on the insistent "Question, Morgan's chords hitting like distant thunder. Smith simmers and burns, Sharps sculpts craggy lines. Morgan plays a whirlwind break with minor Tynerisms, Carl Burnette hitting for melody and beat.

Burnette sets a brisk pace to open "Mike's Tune, and all players keep the pedal to the floor. Smith takes the first plunge, followed by Sharps, flying on soprano. Morgan lays out some trademark agility, followed by Ector's double-jointed bass run. Horace Tapscott takes over the piano stool on "As a Child, a slower piece with a wistful minor. Tapscott steals the take with a solo that includes smears and spidery articulation. Sharps spreads buttery soprano before taking it to the outro. Tapscott's inventive pianistics dominate McKowsky's First Fifth. Adele Sebastian plays an extended interlude on flute, and Tapscott returns with more ideas.

Nimbus West owns an archive of recordings by musicians that traveled in the orbit of the Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra. Their releases capture rarely recorded tributaries of the Los Angeles jazz stream.


Track Listing: The Goat and the Ramjam; Question; Macrame; Mike's Tune; As a Child; Carnival; McKowsky's First Fifth.

Personnel: Jesse Sharps Quintet-Jesse Sharps reeds; Nate Morgan, piano; Steve Smith, trumpet; Joel Ector, bass; Carl Burnette, drums Pan Afrikan People

Title: Sharps and Flats | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Nimbus West


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