FringeReview UK 2018
The Karen Sharp Trio features Sharp herself on tenor sax, Robin Aspland piano and Steve Thompson on bass playing standards and variations.
For the concluding concert of this season, the Karen Sharp Trio returned with Sharp herself on tenor sax, Robin Aspland piano and Steve Thompson on bass to sashay through standards and variations in a mellow autumnal glow.
The Karen Sharp Quartet’s a very active thing and this trio’s often able to suggest and amplitude and aural scale out of proportion to their size.
They started with ‘Everybody I Love’, a softer than usual up-beat, then a long riff of a piece quite familiar, Tony Howell’s Sail away, more sax led but of course filtering the solos magically by increments.
Thelonius Monk’s ‘Panonica’ is a piano-led work, like Monk’s other compositions with a decided first-note accent in a four-figure tune. I like what the Trio did with the variations ad re-entries, again spinning out a small world.
‘Summer Night’ is a Harry Warren standard and this laid-back work again emphasized the way this Trio works with warm cool as it were, Sharp’s tenor sax a gleaming Goldener Oktober thing with a rounded rich sonance playing off against Thompson’s thrum and the restrained virtuosity of Aspland’s piano.
Danny Zeitlin’s ‘Quiet Now’ attests not only to his trumpet but his role as psychotherapist! Bill Evans is famed for playing it, and it again plays to the strength this trio imparted of seeming hushed even when playing out. Lee Kunitz’s ‘Thing-ing’ takes up Jerome Kern’s ‘All the Things You Are’ and runs with it so much you hear the main tune distinctly only half-way through. There’s much piano underpinning the clarity of the variation set this piece is put through.
Sonny Rollins’ upbeat straight ‘Blues in B Flat’ is a firm-noted theme very simple, effective in its counterpointing everything else around it which is fairly stripped-down so you’re getting something purer harking if faintly from the blues tradition itself.
Finally another standard, running wonderfully over time, Benny Carter’s 1936 ‘When Lights Are Low’ with its homecoming theme for a farewell concert, grounding us n a delightful offbeat after this consolatory, straight encore.
They and All Saints Concerts will be back next year. A wonderfully mellow set of performances, and thoroughly recommended.