Extended Family III: Family Values
With his latest album, Extended Family III: Family Values, bassist Avery Sharpe completes a trilogy of recordings that celebrate the lessons of love and unity instilled in him by his parents. Here, the longtime McCoy Tyner associate communicates these essential precepts via compositions performed in a wide range of musical configurations, including solo bass, jazz quartet, quartet plus strings, choir plus quartet, choir plus quartet and strings, choir plus solo bass, jazz trio and bass-guitar duo. The only constant on this album is that on every track Sharpe's bass-whether acoustic or electric, whether plucked or bowed-sings with heartfelt eloquence.
Several tunes are uplifting vocal numbers performed by a gospel choir directed by Sharpe's brother, Kevin N. Sharpe. These songs, such as "Family Values," "Reunion," "They Are Watching" and "I Am My Sister's Keeper," articulate the album's theme plainly and spotlight soulful vocalists Jeri Brown and Lee E. Boone. Equally expressive are the instrumental tracks, such as "Parental Love," a vigorous quartet workout, "Stone Soul Jester," which features Sharpe's spirited interaction with a string quartet, and "I Am My Brother's Keeper," a duet with guitarist and Tonight Show bandleader Kevin Eubanks, wherein Eubanks' delicate fingerwork meets Sharpe's intense bass growl.
There's not a weak tune on Extended Family III: Family Values. Every track reveals Sharpe's extraordinary ability to deliver his message in ways that are technically and compositionally sophisticated, as well as deeply moving emotionally.