Thursday, April 05, 2012

Sharel Cassity Is Vibrant New Saxophone Voice

An Oklahoma City native, saxophonist Sharel Cassity has become a presence on new York City’s scene, having obtained Degrees in Music from The New School and Julliard. She has honored by the late IAJE’s Sisters in jazz and Betty Carter’s jazz Ahead programs and her compositions have won Downbeat Music Awards and ASCAP’s Young Jazz Composer Award. She is an educator as well as work with such small groups as Harry Whitaker, Ingrid Jensen and Mark Whitfield to DIVA and Jimmy Heath Big Bands.

Looking at the cover of her recording Just For You, (DW Records), one does not know what to expect. Once the music starts, one is taken by the clarity and focus of her alto playing (although she plays multiple saxophones). It is produced by Michael Dease (who also contributed three originals to the seven song program) who has brought some of the musicians she regularly works with in the New York club scene. these include Tom Barber on trumpet (who contributed one number) and flugelhorn; Pete Reardon-Anderson on tenor sax, Adam Birnbaum on piano, Paul Beaudry on bass, and Vincent Ector on drums.

Cassity really draws attention with her bluesy tone which will suggest Sonny Stitt as much as Charlie Parker with a bit of Lee Konitz tossed in. Dease’s Phibe’s Revenge, is a brisk hard bop number that kicks off this release. The bouncy title track has a dreamy flavor before Cassity enchants with her chops and tone followed by Barber’s Irazu (Wish You Were Here). Again more standout playing from her along with the marvelous ensemble work. The rhythm section supports her so well and the full ensemble playing is tight.

On the quartet rendition of Ram Ramirez’s Lover Man, her tone is a bit drier with less Charlie Parker and more Lee Konitz. It is followed by Lennie Tristano’s Wow, with its intricate interplay between the horns as well as intriguing solos. Dease’s Roditi’s Dream, has a Latin accent, before the album concludes with her tearing into Cherokee, with shorter spots allotted to her bandmates, but throughout the superb music here, she burns the brightest on this superb album of hard swinging bop.

Sharel’s website is, and this disc is available from, and other better retailers.

I likely received this from Jazz & Blues Report or a publicist for this release. It was written for Jazz & Blues Report but may not have been published. Here is a video of her performing .

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