Sharon Clark

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Finally Review

by Dave Nathan

Union Records showcases jazz musicians working in the Washington, D.C. area and Sharon Clark is part of this group. As this recording establishes, Clark is equally at ease with blues and gospel as she is with jazz. She can swing and has more than adequate range, diction and phrasing. The play list on this album is made up of standards plus songs not often found in jazz singers' repertoire and an original. This menu of songs allows Clark to effectively use her singular singing kills. A feature which makes this recording inviting is some of the off-the-beaten track arrangements. The Beatles' John Lennon and Paul McCartney penned "Do You Want to Know a Secret" which gets an upbeat treatment mixed with a Latin flavor. The normally morose "Send in the Clowns" is delivered in an upbeat fashion. Clark visits the blues with the aptly-named "Bad Case of the Blues" backed by the soulful tenor sax of Paul Carr. Latin Jazz, which seems to be the beat of choice for this session, returns for "End of a Love Affair." On this cut, Paul Carr's sax playing is once more out front playing in between the cracks of Clark's vocal and then getting some longish solo time with his funky Gene Ammons-like tenor. Clark passes the swinging test on George Shearing's "Lullaby of Birdland." Her scatting on Lullaby is reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald's on the great one's 1966 collaboration with Jimmy Jones. Ballads are not ignored. Clark delivers a very warm and poignant version of a Jim Levy original, "Late at Night," with Levy's piano playing gently in the background. "Ill Wind" is done as a ballad, again with a Latin beat. The session ends with a handclapping "What a Friend We Have in Jesus." The only thing missing was a shout of "Hallelujah!" at the end. Clark is a welcome addition to the jazz vocal scene. Hopefully, for her next recording, Union will provide more than the skimpy 44 minutes of music on this album.

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