Avery Sharpe: Fire and Rain

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.

March 17, 2009 · 0 comments


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