Brad Myers & Michael Sharfe: “Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs)”

The Cincinnati-based duo of guitarist Brad Myers and double bassist Michael Sharfe recently released a new album entitled Sanguinaria (Hopefulsongs) on Colloquy Records. While also entailing the talents of other Cincinnati musicians for the project, the album features high-level interplay of guitar and bass front and center on a finely-tuned mix of originals and standards. Myers and Sharfe will bring the celebration of this new work north when they play a CD Release Show on Wednesday, April 19th, from 8 to 11pm at Brothers Drake with Columbus’ Shane Willis on drums. Admission is free to this Jazz Wednesday event. I heard the same band there in November and had a great time, so I would certainly suggest hearing the album tunes and more in living color! Keep reading for my thoughts on this excellent recording.

After opening with the warm yet intriguing title track powered by some unique instrumentation, Sharfe’s solidly swinging bassline on “In From Somewhere” sets the stage for Myers’ upbeat yet contemplative melody and climactic solos from both. Sharfe’s bass again kicks off a sublime take on Gerry Mulligan’s “Line for Lyons,” and the seamless trading of melody and rhythm parts throughout the tune drives home the fact that this is truly a duo of two skilled musicians on equal footing. Jim Hall’s “Waltz New” further solidifies that feeling, and the intricate maneuvers within, including some exquisite tandem parts, add up to a mellow gem. Sharfe moves to fretless electric bass for “Norm’s Ridge,” where the tempo picks up a bit for something of a fusion jam with a mountain feel. Sharfe returns to the acoustic bass for “Country,” a passionate solo tune, before a trio lineup tackles Steve Swallow’s “Falling Grace” with effortless finesse, highlighting the warm tone of both Myers and Sharfe. Composer Paul Bollenback’s (a collaborator of Sharfe’s) epic “A Feeling Inspired by Maria” shifts from a terrestrial melody to ascending solo explorations by Myers. The understated groove of “Bentley’s Blues” gives way to a glowing rendition of Vince Guaraldi’s “Great Pumpkin Waltz,” with Myers and Sharfe both contributing shining parts accented by light percussion, and the album concludes with a simmering take on Dave Brubeck’s “In Your Own Sweet Way.”

This artful pairing of two like-minded musicians is highly recommended for all fans of inventive yet beautifully straightforward jazz. If you can’t make it to the show, the album is available for sampling and purchase here. Below are videos from Myers and Sharfe live in action:

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