Sheryl Bailey 3: Bull’s Eye! – Jazz Guitar Life CD Review

The latest release, Bull’s Eye!, by Sheryl Bailey and the Sheryl Bailey 3 is a testament to the passion, discipline, and work ethic that can be found only in the top tier of professional musicians. To put it simply, Bailey, and the Sheryl Bailey 3 have got it goin’ on!

The Sheryl Bailey 3 deliver fire, energy, passion, swing, near-psychic interplay, dynamics, color, mega-chops, and kick-ass tunes penned by Bailey herself all on one dynamite CD that needs to be heard, and fast. And I haven’t even begun to talk about Bailey’s guitar playing yet which runs the gamut of musical styles from straight-ahead, to fusion, blues, post-bop, funk, rock and beyond (“Swamp Thang”? ‘nuff said).

There is lots of inspiring guitar playing on this CD and one gets the sense that Bailey has been influenced by every major player and style within the past 40 odd years or so. Listen closely and you’ll hear a little from George Benson, John Scofield, Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz, Grant Green, and more. At times such influences have a tendency to detract from a musician’s sonic signature, but not in Bailey’s case. Thankfully, it all seems to flow into Bailey’s artistic stew, coming out as part of her musical identity and potency as a player.

As such, there’s something for everyone on this CD and in Bailey’s performances as she digs into different bags to come up with some extremely lyrical and impressive playing and composing chops (she just may be the successor to Stern’s “chops of doom”). From the fast-fingered title track, the “old world melody” of “Old and Young Blues”, the optimistic vibe of “Sue’s Samba”, the phase-dissonance of “Swamp Thang” and post-bop of “Elvin People”, Bailey et al. play their heart’s out on each tune, and it shows.

Gary Versace and Ian Froman, Hammond B-3 and drums respectively complete Bailey’s musical vision as she composes her modal excursions for those two musicians specifically. The result is an outstanding interchange of musical ideas and minds meeting as one with Bailey, Versace, and Froman playing off each other’s energy and awareness to make the best music they can. There’s some happening playing from both Versace and Froman and it is no wonder that Bailey has hooked up steadily with these two for the past few years now. With such a winning combination, how could you do anything else?

For the serious fan of jazz guitar, and music in general, I recommend picking up a copy of Bull’s Eye! and adding it to your collection now. It’s that good!

Go to www.sherylbailey.com to purchase “Bulls Eye!” or to see what else Sheryl Bailey has to offer.

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