Karen Sharp Trio: Another Place

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I first heard Sharp when she was part of Humphrey Lyttelton’s eight-piece band alongside the equally excellent Jo Fooks, a rare combination of female saxophonists in a front-line. I was impressed by her playing then (and, indeed, that of Fooks) and have never had cause to change my opinion. Her collaborations with pianist Nikki Iles have been especially enjoyable.

My Blue Jacket is a rearrangement of a tune Sharp originally wrote for that Lyttelton band. It closes a session of impeccable performances of elegant compositions, with some classics by Thad Jones & Frank Wess, Bill Evans, Steve Swallow, Lee Konitz and Clare Fisher plus attractive new tunes contributed by Sharp and Thorpe. To save you guessing, Thorpe’s To Billy And TM is a tribute to Strayhorn and Monk.

The line-up and approach recall the Jimmy Giuffre Trio of the mid to late-50s. (Not the edition with Bob Brookmeyer on valve-trombone made famous by the Jazz On A Summer’s Day film but the more standard one.) Like that group, Sharp’s trio creates ever-evolving lattices of melodic lines.

There are solos where two of the trio drop back into an accompanying role, but a large part of the session consists of collective improvisations, and it’s a constant pleasure to hear how they all pick up phrases from each other to develop the music, either to follow a new direction or to elaborate on the existing course. Nobody grandstands, and the session is like a relaxed conversation amongst friends. The recorded ambience has an intimate quality entirely appropriate to the music.

If categories mattered I suppose you’d call this mainstream or modern-mainstream. I’d put it in a pigeon-hole marked “Do yourself a favour and buy this”. 

Discography
Lady Luck; Another Place; Caminhos Cruzados; Funkallero; October; Peau Douce; Pensativa; Thingin’; To Billy And TM; My Blue Jacket (51.37)
Sharp (ts,bs); Colin Oxley (g); Simon Thorpe (b). March 2019.
KLS Records KLS001