James Steele – Baritone Sax
Jon Hall – Piano
Neil Sharkey – Bass Guitar
Mike Sharkey – Drums
This was a most enjoyable gig! The band loved every minute and the audience assured us they were with us all the way. A good balance of material and an instant rapport between the players made each number an absolute pleasure and a voyage of discovery.
From the piano, I felt the tight rhythm section created the perfect platform for the sax and piano to interact, confidently exchanging ideas, throwing phrases back and forth and building a constant series of climaxes. The bass and drums played with sensitivity, fire and driving rhythm. In a word, or four, it swung like the clappers!
New pieces like Herbie Hancock’s hard bop Driftin’, Mingus’s bluesy tribute to Lester Young’s Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, and Horace Silver’s funky The Jody Grind slotted in effortlessly with more familiar tunes. These included Gerry Mulligan’s Walking Shoes and Out Back of the Barn, Lonnie Smith’s Jeannine, Thelonius Monk’s Rhythm-ning and Round Midnight, the standards What is This Thing Called Love, All the Things You Are and more. We even established, with the help of audience participation, the origins of Sigmund Romberg’s Softly as in a Morning Sunrise in the 1920s musical The Desert Song. This is described as a song of bitterness and lost love, originally composed as a tango. Regardless we played it as an up tempo swinger.
I look forward to playing with these guys again. Luckily next week sees the return of the Sharkey Brothers, with myself on piano and Colin Henderson on alto, baritone saxes and flute. Don’t miss it.