|Sonny Sharrock — Seize The Rainbow (1987)|
Sonny Sharrock — Seize The Rainbow
Born: August 27, 1940 in Ossining, NY
Died: May 25, 1994 in Ossining, NY
Aliases: Warren Harding Sharrock
Album release: May 1987 / Recorded At – Electric Lady Studios
Record Label: Enemy Records
1. Dick Dogs 5:14
2. My Song 6:29
3. Fourteen 10:01
4. J. D. Schaa 5:38
5. Seize The Rainbow 4:35
6. The Past Adventures Of Zydeco Honeycup 8:24
7. Sheraserhead's Hightop Sneakers 4:09
• Pheeroan akLaff Drums
• Melvin Gibbs Bass
• Michael Knuth Coordination
• Bill Laswell 6-String Bass, Guest Artist, Producer
• Thi-Linh Le Artwork
• Robert Musso Assistant Producer, Engineer, Mixing
• Sonny Sharrock Composer, Guitar, Primary Artist, Producer
• Nicky Skopelitis Assistant Producer
• Abe Speller Drums
• Howie Weinberg Mastering
≈ When people speak of guitar heroes, the same names always come up-- Hendrix, Clapton, Page, maybe if you're a bit more adventerous you'll hear McLaughlin, Fripp, Frisell, Howe, etc. But there are some names that don't come up often enough-- one of them is Sonny Sharrock, and as evidence, I present "Seize the Rainbow".
≈ While not my favorite album by Sharrock, it is an extraordinary record, and it certainly shows Sharrock's technique as well as any other album. With a supportive backing band of Melvin Gibbs on bass and Abe Speller and Pheeroan Aklaff on drums (with producer Bill Laswell adding bass to one number), the album slides easily through genres, allowing Sharrock to explode in every direction imaginable.
≈ Certianly opener "Dick Dogs" sets the stage, a pretty straightforwawrd rock piece, Sharrock cuts loose and explodes, totally hanging off the edge by about three minutes into the piece. Quite frankly, if you're not convinced by this point, you'll never be.
≈ The remainder of the album finds Sharrock feeling meditative ("My Song", featuring some of his most passionate playing), melodramatic ("J.D. Schaa", heavily indebted to the free jazz tradition) and goofy ("The Past Adventures of Zydeco Honeycup"), but one thing that is consistent throughout is the high level of musicianship-- Sharrock of course is incomporable, but Gibbs, while mixed a bit quieter than I'd like, is all over the place, hodling down basslines and rhythm effortlessly, often liberating the drummers to pursue a more Rashied Ali-ish approach to timekeeping, with an implied rhythm rather than a directly stated one.
≈ For fans of jazz, rock, or just fine guitar playing, this record is superb, and a bit more accessible than Sharrock's masterpiece ("Ask the Ages"). Highly recommended. Website: http://www.sonnysharrock.com
Review by Steve Huey
≈ The follow-up to Sonny Sharrock's entirely solo comeback album, Guitar, Seize the Rainbow puts the guitarist at the helm of a rock-styled power trio featuring bassist Melvin Gibbs and Abe Speller and Pheeroan akLaff on drums (producer Bill Laswell also plays bass on one cut). The overall sound of the album is surprisingly straightforward, heavy metal-tinged jazz-rock, though the caliber and taste of the musicians makes it something far more than what rock guitar virtuosos of the period were recording. Still, there isn't too much way-out craziness, aside from some of Sharrock's trademark slide-guitar explorations on the spiritual title track and the riff-driven rockers "Dick Dogs" and "Sheraserhead's Hightop Sneakers." For the most part, Sharrock's playing on Seize the Rainbow is more concerned with melodic themes and traditional single-note solo lines than textural experiments. Fortunately, his tone is still gloriously skronky, and his playing is no less passionate. Bill Laswell's production is bright and immediate, and the rhythm section's agility breathes a spark into the straight-up rock rhythms they're often asked to play. Even if it isn't quite as evocative as the solo sound paintings of Guitar, Seize the Rainbow does place Sharrock's playing in one of its most accessible settings, and it's perhaps the best starting point for rock fans wondering what the fuss is about.
Biography by Steve Huey
≈ Of the electric guitar's few proponents in avant-garde jazz, Sonny Sharrock is easily the most influential; he was one of the earliest guitarists to even attempt free playing, along with Derek Bailey and Sonny Greenwich. Sharrock's visceral aggression and monolithic sheets of noise were influenced by the screaming overtones of saxophonists like Coltrane, Sanders, and Ayler, and his experiments with distortion and feedback predated even Jimi Hendrix. Naturally, he provoked much hostility among traditionalists, but once his innovations were assimilated, he enjoyed wide renown in avant-garde circles.
≈ Born Warren Harding Sharrock in Ossining, NY, in 1940, he began singing in doo wop groups in 1953. He fell in love with jazz through Kind of Blue, but took up guitar (in 1960) instead of saxophone because of his asthma. In 1965 -- four years after a failed stint at Berklee -- he moved to New York, where he first worked with Byard Lancaster and Babatunde Olatunji. He made his recording debut in late 1966 on Pharoah Sanders' Tauhid, and remained with Sanders until 1968; he subsequently joined Herbie Mann's group, where his wild freakouts clashed -- often intriguingly -- with the flautist's accessible leanings. Sharrock's first recordings as a leader, 1969's Black Woman and 1970's Monkey-Pockie-Boo, featured his wife Linda's swooping wordless vocals. In 1970, Sharrock turned down an audition with Miles Davis, feeling that his seismic, uncredited solo on A Tribute to Jack Johnson spoke for itself; unfortunately, the result was years of obscurity after he exited Mann's group around 1972. Fortunately, producer/bassist Bill Laswell invited Sharrock to join the avant-punk-jazz supergroup Last Exit in 1986. Laswell also produced the majority of a series of albums documenting Sharrock at his most unfiltered (1986's unaccompanied Guitar, 1987's Seize the Rainbow, 1990's Highlife, and the Nicky Skopelitis duet album Faith Moves). 1991's Ask the Ages was Sharrock's masterpiece, reuniting him with Pharoah Sanders and capturing his visceral and melodic sides. Sadly, though, just as he was becoming popular with adventurous young rock fans, Sharrock died of a heart attack in May 1994; his last recordings were for the animated series Space Ghost Coast to Coast.
© Photo credit: Thi Linh Le
1969: Black Woman (Vortex Records)
1982: Dance with Me, Montana (Marge Records)
1987: Seize the Rainbow
1988: Machine Gun (with Machine Gun)
1989: No Material (with Ginger Baker)
1989: Live in New York
1991: Faith Moves (duo with Nicky Skopelitis)
1991: Ask the Ages
1996: Space Ghost Coast to Coast
1996: Into Another Light (compilation) • http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/SunsetStrip/Venue/4306/sharrock&date=2009-10-25+11:01:28
|Sonny Sharrock — Seize The Rainbow (1987)|