Avery Sharpe: Fire and Rain
Fire and Rain
Avery Sharpe (bass)
Autumn Moonlight (JKNM AS89897)
Composed by James Taylor.
Recorded: Brighton, Massachusetts, November 2008
Rating: 89/100 (learn more)
I never really thought of James Taylor's legendary pop hit "Fire and Rain" as a candidate for a jazz treatment. But before writing about how unusual this was, I decided to cover my ass and research it a bit. Glad I did! The song has been interpreted by Herb Alpert, Maynard Ferguson, Al Jarreau, Keith Jarrett, Hubert Laws and some Smooth Jazz (Stand clear! Barf attack…) performers. Luckily though, I can find no other bass players who have covered the tune. So, until I am informed otherwise, bassist Avery Sharp's rendition is unique.
The intro has Sharpe playing an infectious riff with some legato. The trio kicks in almost immediately with a treatment reminiscent of Ramsey Lewis's approach to Beatles songs. There is less of that Lewis funk groove here, but the formula is similar: (a) gather some really great jazz musicians; (b) take a really good pop melody and have them give it a swinging jazz vibe that makes it even better. Sharpe, drummer Winard Harper and pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs know how to do that. I suspect they could take songs of lesser quality and do the same.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky