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The Sheryl Bailey 3 - Live At the Fat Cat

Sheryl Bailey

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Album Review

The fourth album by Sheryl Bailey's trio was recorded over the course of two nights at the popular Christopher Street jazz bar The Fat Cat in November of 2005. This group, which also includes organist Gary Versace and drummer Ian Froman, has always sounded great in the studio, but in a live setting their energy and chemistry are nothing short of amazing. They play with a fine balance of lightness and depth, responding to each other's ideas nimbly and insightfully, changing textures and meters on a dime and creating a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of thrilling musical moments. Consider, for example, the point about two-thirds of the way through Bailey's solo on "Cedar's Mood," when she and Versace seem to suddenly join hands and fly through the roof on a quickly ascending chordal figure, or the strangely intense sonic digressions that happen periodically throughout the otherwise simple and lovely ballad "Elvin People." As always, Bailey's compositional prowess is a very large part of this album's success; the slippery, sideways chord changes on the sassy "Soft Green Light" are a delight, as is the combination of a funky New Orleans feel and weird, almost Pere Ubu-esque organ experimentation on "Swamp Thang." The album's emotional centerpiece is a contemplative ballad called "Wishing Well (For David)," a melancholy but not dark tribute to klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer (in whose band Bailey has played and recorded). Here's hoping Bailey and her crew continue recording together for a very, very long time.

The Sheryl Bailey 3 - Live At the Fat Cat, Sheryl Bailey
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