her 2014 CD, A Meeting Of Minds, NYC based guitarist
Sheryl Bailey takes a cue from the classic jazz guitar
/ organ trios of the past and the results put forward another solid
jazzy instrumental offering. Sheryl rises to the occasion on her new
12 track CD, composing a range of instrumental originals that make
the most of her jazzy guitar grooves. On A Meeting Of Minds, Sheryl
joins forces with a solid trio, featuring Ron Oswanski (Hammond
B-3) and Ian Froman (drums). One of the finest guitarists on
the 21st century jazz guitar scene, Sheryl always preferred the warm
and fuzzy sound of vintage jazz, eschewing the sometimes manic side
of jazz-rock, so her new album may say 2014 yet the grooves take you
back the time-honored instrumental jazz sound of the 1950s and
60s and the timeless sound of organ trio greats like Charles
Earland, Groove Holmes and the king of the B-3, Jimmy Smith. Commenting
on the album in the liner notes of the CD, Sheryl explains, I
named this recording A Meeting Of Minds, because it is a testament
to what happens when you keep a group working, hanging and touring
together. For me, this is the ultimate experience in having a band.
Recorded in New Jersey and released by the Cellar Live record
label, A Meeting Of Minds features in depth liner notes by
both Sheryl and music journo Jim Carlton. www.CellarLive.com
presents an interview with
How did your new CD A Meeting Of Minds come together? In the
liner notes you discuss working with Ron Oswanski and Ian Froman for
the last five years so would you consider this your best album yet
and how and when did you meet Ron and Ian?
Sheryl Bailey: I believe this is one of my best of the nine
so far, and its a great testament of the work Ron, Ian and myself
have been doing for several years, playing clubs and concerts. What
youre hearing is a real working band, a band that performs together
as a unit, not just a group of superstars put together for a project.
When folks come to a live show, they know the difference instantly,
and thats what I wanted to document, share, and promote.
Ive been playing with Ian for about 14 years, in various formations
of this project. We met on a gig with tenor saxophone master, George
Garzone at Cornelia Street Café in NYC several years before
I formed the organ trio as a band. I always loved his open way of
playing and had him in mind for a project when the time was right.
I met Ron several years ago on a gig in Brooklyn. I called him initially
to sub on a gig at the 55 Bar. I had sent him my book of music, and
he turned up and burned it up! I was so impressed with how he learned
my music, and that was an instant hire, as far as I was concerned.
He is really the perfect cat in that chair, because he blends the
blues tradition on the Hammond with modern harmony, which is really
where my compositions and style are coming from.
mwe3: Youve been playing guitar since you were 13 but
first you wanted to play rock music. So how did you become so interested
in jazz and what guitarists and albums inspired you to evolve from
rock to jazz and what other guitarists do you consider to be the most
versatile? I know youre a big Cream fan too so I guess the occasional
Clapton lick is inevitable!
Bailey: It was a mixture of serendipitous events. I was playing
rock, heavy metal and blues in bars as a teenager. I was really serious
about the guitar and music, coming from a family of musicians. I stumbled
upon a radio station, WYEP, in Pittsburgh and heard Bird, Sonny Rollins,
and then Wes Montgomery. I was so intrigued by it and had to figure
As I said, I was playing in bars, which meant I was out late and not
attending school because I just wanted to play guitar all day, so
my mother insisted that I start studying formally, in sights of going
to music school, so she found a teacher from Duquesne University,
John Maione. He really got me started on learning Charlie Christian,
Django Reinhardt, and Joe Pass solos. He also insisted that I officially
skip school one day to hear Tal Farlow in person, which was a complete
mwe3: What was the Berklee school of music experience like
for you and what were some of the other key events there that really
opened your eyes and ears to being a performing and composing guitarist?
Are you still affiliated with Berklee these days and where else do
you teach and work on various guitar programs?
Sheryl Bailey: Im currently an Associate Professor at
Berklee College of Music, and I am adjunct faculty at The Collective
School of Music in NYC, in addition to traveling doing workshops and
my online Bebop Dojo course via Truefire.com.
At the time I attended Berklee, it really opened me up to modern harmony.
Thats really the thing they do best there: harmonic analysis
learning about how it all fits together! Growing up around
amazing pianists in my family and hearing so much great classical
and musical theater in my home, I had the melodies and harmonies inside
of me, and Berklee helped my understand how they work.
What is it like for you living in NYC and where do you live in the
city these days? Youre from the Pittsburgh area right? So how
do you fell living in New York influences your playing and writing
and what are your favorite places to play and also hang out in the
Tri-State area? I guess the city still maintains its legacy.
Sheryl Bailey: I live in the Bronx in NYC, and I love NYC!
Ive been here for 20 years and I cant imagine living anywhere
else because there is always inspiration around. On any given night
I can go out and hear famous and unknown greats to feed me, and playing
in an environment when folks like George Benson or Mike Stern are
sitting in the audience makes you concentrate on always doing your
The 55 Bar has been a spiritual home to the organ trio, in particular,
and my quartet with pianist, Jim Ridl, plays at the Fat Cat regularly.
I also love playing Smalls and the Deer Head Inn. Those are special
mwe3: Can you tell us where A Meeting Of Minds was recorded
and who else was involved in the sound, production, mixing and mastering
of the album? How did you decide to work with the Cellar Live record
Sheryl Bailey: A Meeting Of Minds was recorded at Tedesco
Studios in Paramus N.J. engineered and recorded by Tom Tedesco and
mixed/mastered by Paul Wycliff. We recorded on two different dates,
and what you hear are almost all first takes, and no edits! Unity
and Cheap Jersey Gas were new tunes that I introduced
at the session, so those were the only ones we did more than two takes
on, mainly just to get familiar with the tunes. Thats the beauty
of recording a working band, we know the tunes so deeply that we can
just go in and lay them down.
Besides the ease of the sessions, this one was probably the easiest
to get to market as well. After I mixed it, I sent it to Cory Weeds,
knowing that he digs the style of music I play. He loved it, we made
an agreement, and here it is. The distribution on this release is
phenomenal its all over the US, Canada, Europe and Japan.
What guitars are you playing on the A Meeting Of Minds album?
How has your choice of guitars changed over the years? What was your
first guitar and how many guitars do you currently have in your collection?
I guess there can never be too many guitars in the world right?
Sheryl Bailey: The guitar I primarily play is the Sheryl
Bailey Signature Mercury Model built by NYC luthier, Ric McCurdy.
This particular one was a gift to me from the late great guitar master
Jimmy Wyble. I have the prototype model that I also play on occasion,
but this particular one that Jimmy gifted me is my favorite.
Im currently awaiting a custom Strat from Ric, that will make
its appearance with David Krakauers projects and my Electric
Ladyland Project. Im looking forward to this one!
My first guitar was a Strat from JC Penneys that I begged my
mother to buy me for Xmas.
I recently had an acoustic guitar built for me by Dana Bourgeois that
is amazing! Im working on an acoustic duo project with bassist,
Harvie S that well be recording very soon, and will be doing
a follow up to A New Promise with producer Marty Ashby
that will feature this amazing axe, so stay tuned!
mwe3: What are your live shows like? Do you work from a set
list and what tracks and albums from your catalog do you like to feature
in a live setting? Also what are some of your favorite cities to do
shows both in the US and abroad? What was the most freaked out show
and the most amazing show you ever played live?
Sheryl Bailey: If Im playing with The Sheryl Bailey 3
or the Sheryl Bailey 4, we play my tunes exclusively. I have a very
expansive book of tunes, fondly called The Book of Bailey.
Im writing all the time, so there are usually new pieces popping
up all the time.
Where do you see the future of guitar going both from a recording
perspective and as far as live music goes? Will we all be tableted
into submission? Will today's rock standards (Hendrix, Beatles, Cream
etc) become tomorrows jazz or even classical standards? Isnt
that what usually happens anyway and what music of yesterday or today
would you like to transform into something new and different? Classical,
jazz, folk anything youd like to put a new spin on?
Sheryl Bailey: Being an improviser I have no interest in trying
to predict the future, for me its all about being in the moment
now because who knows what will happen next?
As far as rock music being played in a jazz format, I have a Hendrix
band with guitarist Vic Juris, bassist Lincoln Goines and drummer
Tommy Campbell called The Electric Ladyland Project. In
the case of Jimis music, it lends itself very easily to a jazz
format because his music is dense with the main elements that make
all good music good music: melody, harmony and rhythm.
My approach in arranging his music is not to be a cover band or a
fusion or bebopped-out approach, but homage to the melodies and harmonies
that he wrote, but presenting them in a way jazz musicians can dig
into the way we do and open them up as vehicles for improvisation.
A good tune is a good tune, so if rock composers write strong melodies
and harmonies, they will translate without much effort. Theres
a lot of material out there ripe for exploring.
mwe3: What would a Sheryl Bailey CD compilation look like?
What are some tracks from your earlier albums that would you like
to collect and possibly anthologize on a Sheryl Bailey best of collection?
Sheryl Bailey: Honk from Little Misunderstood
Velvet Hammer from Reunion Of Souls
Starbrite from The Power of 3!
Old and Young Blues from Bulls Eye!
Elvin People from Live @ the Fat Cat
V-Day from Live In NYC
Unified Field from A New Promise
An Unexpected Turn from For All Those Living
One For VJ from A Meeting Of Minds
mwe3: I want to ask you about working with Krakauer. That man
is amazing. Whats your take on what he does and how did you
meet him? Being Jewish myself, his new album The Big Picture
kind of hit me with a deja-vu thing. My Romanian grandfather would
cry when I played him a Dave Tarras album Are you Jewish and how do
you relate or neednt I ask being you live a stones throw from
Ellis Island! I forgot, Klezmer is a world wide art form!
Bailey: Ive worked with David for 14 years in many of his
projects: Klezmer Madness, Abraham Incorporated, The Big Picture
and Ancestral Groove.
David is a monstrous musician and has been a great friend and mentor
to me over the years. I am always honored to be included in his projects.
They challenge me in creative ways that I dont get to do with
other folks. Because Im not a traditional Klezmer musician,
he wants me to bring my harmonic ideas to his music, and also sounds!
His goal has always been to keep Klezmer a contemporary music, not
a museum piece, hence adding electric guitar, so I am always in search
of new sounds to sculpt the music. Im not Jewish, but love Jewish
culture and the music! Thats all that is required really. I
love Dave Tarras too!
mwe3: What new vistas are planning to bring your guitar playing
to next? Are there other areas youre planning to explore next
both as a guitarist and as a composer on an upcoming recording or
CD release? And what other plans do you have for 2014 and into 2015?
Sheryl Bailey: As I mentioned earlier, Im in the beginning
stages of developing a project with bassist Harvie S, and will be
creating a new project for MCG jazz with Marty Ashby both of
these on acoustic guitar, which is really new territory for me.
This summer Im working on booking a tour with the organ trio
to Asia in May 2015. We have an invitation to the Shanghai Conservatory
as a starting point, so any folks out there from that part of the
world, hit me up so we can discuss bringing the trio to your venue!
also writing a new series of tunes to do a live recording with the
Sheryl Bailey 4: Jim Ridl on piano, drummer
Joe Strasser, and bassist Andy McKee. Once I get all the music written,
Ill book a slew of gigs then find a good venue where we can
So quite a few new projects in development!
Thanks to Sheryl Bailey @ www.SherylBailey.com