Sheer All Stars -
Live @ The Blues Room
of all, contemporary jazz is alive and well according to the vibrant,
yet uncompromising sounds of the Sheer All Stars from South Africa.
Yes, "Sheer Sound plans to incorporate the most talented jazz
musicians in South Africa as a working group" says the record
label. It appears that they've managed to accomplish their goal with
the resonating sounds of the Sheer All Stars since their inception
back in 1996.
The opening piece composed by
pianist Paul Hanmer titled "Meeting of The Women" is an
engaging nine minute jam session that properly sets the pace for the
entire album. The interplay between the soloists leaves you in awe
wondering why in the world did cjazz ever remove itself from this
intimate setting of quality musicianship on records in the first
Next up comes "Meeting
Point", written by bassist Sipho Gumede. This composition reminds
me of autumn, possibly late September. It's lyrical, yet through the
transitions you evolve mesmerized by the exchanging of ideas between
the musicians. Thought provoking in it's own right "Meeting
Point" leaves you in a tranquil state of reverie.
At the three spot there's
"Sugar Shake" composed by guitarist Errol Dyer. His guitar
phrasing reminds me somewhat of South African native Jonathan Butler.
However, this track showcases the cohesiveness of this talented
ensemble. The Butler like guitar licks opens this track into a
recognizable South African flavor. The voicings of saxophonist McCoy
Mrubata echoes clearly that you're about to have a good time.
"Hymn for the Ballies"
is reminiscent of a song that you've heard somewhere before. Paul
Hanmer the group's pianist penned this track. The underlying
instrumentation has a Yellowjackets feel to it, it's haunting midtempo
romp relentlessly grooves like nobodies business. The exchanging of
solos demonstrates the effectiveness that time spent in the woodshed
has its rewards.
Track five "Milagre" is
another infectious midtempo number that suggests a new beginning has
arrived, featuring the talented Paul Hanmer on piano. The impressive
interplay between Hanmer and saxman Mrubata emerge into something
special, delivering sweet melodic grooves with little effort.
"Fula" comes in at the
sixth spot with intensity, the integrity and virtuosity that confirms
they've come too play. Contemporary jazz aficionados will adore this
stellar performance by Sheer All Stars. Saxophonist Mrubata should be
proud of this wonderfully composed piece, a satisfying script of
artistry at its best.
Guitarist Errol Dyer reveals once
again that he's got a knack for composing songs that make you smile,
this track reminds me of the first time that I set foot on the
Caribbean soil of St. Croix, VI. "Langery" the song title is
spirited, clever, with brilliant African flavors that enhances their
culture woven into this promising composition.
The point of departure has arrived
with the closing piece written by the groups bassist Sipho Gumede
titled "Alone In A Strange Place", Gumede appears to be the
sentimental one of the group here. Sipho has comprised another magical
moment that can only compliment this accessible collection of songs.
Sheer All Stars has brilliantly
compiled a sophisticated blend of compositions performed with the
highest quality of musicianship. South Africa and Sheer Sound, I
applaud your efforts to deliver this masterpiece. This recording by
the "Sheer All Stars" is essential for those of you that
savor a taste of jazz with a twist of world music flavors!