Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sharel Cassity: Relentless

JLP Records
By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 1.7.10
Buy CD: Relentless

Here's a talented anachronism: a musician from the Midwest — an area not known for developing jazz artists — who is an instrumentalist rather than a vocalist or pianist. Composer/arranger Sharel Cassity plays alto and soprano saxes and flute, and excels in all these activities.

She was born in Iowa, raised in Oklahoma, and concluded her schooling at New York's prestigious New School Of Jazz and the Juilliard Institute of Jazz. She has worked with the Diva Jazz Orchestra, Jimmy Heath's Big Band, the Dizzy Gillespie All-Star Sextet and the Roy Hargrove Big Band.

This is Cassity's second album; she heads nine groups, ranging from quartets to octets, utilizing musicians she worked with during her “school days” in New York. All are young and relatively unknown, but we'll obviously hear a lot more from them in the future.

Six of the eight tracks are Cassity originals, and she arranged everything in a style that combines straight-ahead and post-bop genres. This is the first group I've heard — in a long time — where all the solo work is excellent, with no discernible shortcomings. These folks have a gently swinging “togetherness” that sets them apart from most units on the horizon today.

Keep your eyes peeled for more from Cassity and her compatriots.

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