Part musical journey, part history lesson and part tribute, Avery Sharpe’s Sojourner Truth “Ain’t I a Woman?” (JKNM Records, 2012) does several things well. It entertains, informs and honors.

The liner notes give a brief history of Sojourner Truth’s life and explains Sharpe’s inspiration for this project. Sharpe plays acoustic bass and six-string electric bass. The rest of the ensemble consists of Onaje Allan Gumbs on piano, Yoron Israel on drums, Craig Handy on soprano and tenor saxophones, Duane Eubanks on trumpet and flugelhorn and vocalist Jeri Brown.

“Isabella’s Wakening” is inspired by Truth’s original name, Isabella. It’s Sharpe’s acknowledgement of her decision to put her life as a slave behind her and become. Handy’s tenor carries much of the tune, but Sharpe also thrills with the six-string, which he plays like a guitar. Eubanks, Gumbs and Israel stretch out quite well in the background.

“Ain’t I a Woman?” is a slow, spiritual piece. Brown recites the commonly accepted version of Truth’s poetry, a speech given at the Ohio Women’s Convention in 1851. The group underscores the recital, with Handy and Eubanks overlapping much of the way, before stepping aside for piano, bass and drums. One can almost see Truth speaking to the sound of Brown’s voice.

Brown also sings lead on “Pleading for My People,” a spiritual sang by Truth in her day, with music composed by Sharpe. With the rhythm section accompanying her during the verses, the horns provide a subtle layer to the chorus. Sharpe again breaks out the six-string during the middle break.

Sharpe, a native of Valdosta, Georgia, attended the University of Massachusetts, where he played electric bass in various genres, but later learned the acoustic bass at the encouragement of jazz bassist Reggie Workman. Over the course of his career, Sharpe has performed or recorded with many notables, including Art Blakey, McCoy Tyner, Dizzy Gillespie and Pat Metheny.

Apart from the traditional song, “Motherless Child,” all of the music on Ain’t I a Woman? is original. Sharpe composed seven songs, including two which he added to Truth’s lyrics. “Virtuous She Is,” “The Way Home” and “Catch the Sunset” were penned by Israel, Handy and Gumbs, respectively.