REVIEW by SCOTT YANOW, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76
Leslie Sharp is a talented jazz pianist and singer based in California. She has extensive classical background, has written scores for independent films, and composed spiritual songs. On Dancing On The Wide-Eyed Edge, the emphasis is on her abundant jazz skills.
This CD is filled with surprises, with something unexpected happening on virtually every selection. Ms. Sharp is joined by bassist Brad Bobo, drummer Alex Smith and, on three selections, trumpeter Kael Sharp. The opening “Autumn Leaves,” taken as an instrumental with the full quartet, starts off with some pretty solo piano before it suddenly becomes a Latin jazz romp with stirring trumpet, forceful bass and hard-swinging piano.
“Blue Skies” is given an eccentric version utilizing a background chorus, an alternation of the melody and some tricky time changes. Leslie Sharp’s haunting and highly expressive voice takes honors. For “I Give Thanks,” she set liturgy from Mentalphysics to music, using the celebratory words on a piece that begins as a jazz waltz before before switching to 4/4, with the feel of a Gregorian chant meeting pop with a bit of funk.
The swing hit “Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” goes through several tempo changes, has Kael Sharp’s powerful Fralich trumpet, and is full of drama. On “Gershwin To Gershwin,” an unusual medley of “Concerto In F” and “Summertime” works quite well. “Orange Colored Sky,” a hit for Nat King Cole, is taken as a showcase for guest singer Heather Sandidge.
During McCoy Tyner’s “La Vida Feliz,” Leslie Sharp has an opportunity to stretch out on some modern jazz with her trio, showing that she is a skillful jazz improviser. The title cut, “Dancing On The Wide-Eyed Edge aka The Most Interesting Line Between Two Points” starts out with some thoughtful solo piano that eventually becomes a different section of George Gershwin’s immortal “Concerto In F.”
“Gypsy In My Soul” displays Leslie Sharp’s wide vocal range plus her impressive technique on piano. She creates many speedy runs over reharmonized chords while sometimes hinting at Thelonious Monk. The Judy Garland-associated “Trolley Song” is given a rhythmic figure that recalls “Mission Impossible,” is taken in 6/4 time and is quite atmospheric, much different than the cheerful Judy Garland version. This consistently intriguing outing concludes with a reprise of “I Give Thanks.”
Dancing On The Wide-Eyed Edge is quite eclectic, has the “sound of surprise” that one associates with the best jazz, and serves as an excellent introduction to pianist-singer Leslie Sharp. She comes up with something fresh and stimulating on every selection, creating a CD that is of strong interest to lovers of the unexpected.
Scott Yanow, author of ten books including The Jazz Singers, Trumpet Kings, Jazz On Film and Jazz On Record 1917-76
For those of us drawn to jazz there’s something haunting about jazz which haul's you into uncharted dimensions and leaves you there until the song is done. Then it brings you back and slams you into your chair of life and allows you to wake up just in time to clap and be grateful.
This is what I found in the new album called Dancing On The Wide Eyed Edge.
University of Redlands School of Music
It is with great enthusiasm that I write a recommendation
for Leslie Sharp, a graduate from the University of Redlands
School of Music with a Bachelor of Music degree in Composition.
I am the adjunct Professor of Flute at the University of
Redlands and I have known her for one year where she served
as piano accompanist for the advanced wind students at the
University of Redlands. In my experience, I have found Leslie
always to be a superior musician and an excellent team player.
She was always open to ideas and suggestions and incorporated
them immediately with confidence and conviction. I was also
impressed with her technical facility, mature musical ideas
and sensitivity in chamber music collaborations with fellow
musicians. Her creativity and advanced musical training
was also obvious when she composed a piece for one of my
flute master students to perform. It was full of interesting
color, nuance and engaging rhythmic and melodic material.
It is clear she has many gifts that come through with the
beautiful images that she presents in her creative and mature
artistry as a pianist and composer.
Knowing her this past year, I was also aware that, despite
great hardships dealing with financial difficulties, immense
family responsibilities and living an inconvenient distance
from the University, she accomplished incredible goals,
fulfilled responsibilities and demonstrated perseverance
and determination much beyond the average student.
I have great confidence in recommending Leslie PellmanSharp
for anything she wants to pursue. With her diligence, talent,
creativity, and kind spirit, she will be successful and
a joy to work with.
I urge you to give her great consideration for your program.
Sara Andon, Adjunct Professor of Flute University of Redlands
School of Music
A. D. -Yale University
M. M. -University of Southern California