Dave Sharp and friends exploring the jazzier side of Indian music
It doesn’t matter how far afield Dave Sharp travels with his music. He’s still never far from home.
Sharp and his world-jazz septet, The Secret Seven, are just as comfortable in the straight-ahead jazz realm as they are traveling the musical globe to incorporate world-music influences into their ever-evolving sound.
On April 1, Sharp and the Secret Seven host the second installment of an ongoing series of gigs at the Kerrytown Concert House that is designed to shine a light on the various influences that inform their approach to incorporating world music into jazz.
For the “Journey To India” show, the septet will grow to at least nine pieces and will feature Parag Ray, a classically trained Indian vocalist based in Windsor.
“She’s an amazing singer and really an exceptional talent,” said Sharp, who initially hooked up with Ray through his involvement with the traditional Indian band, Sumkali. “I’m very excited for people to hear her sing and to see what happens when she performs with our group.”
Although he studied Indian music formally in San Francisco years ago and is comfortable with the music, Sharp credited Secret Seven tabla player John Churchville with exposing him to this area’s premier Indian music musicians.
“(John) is definitely the the go-to tabla player in the area and he’s really brought a lot to the group,” Sharp said.
The first in Sharp’s series, “Journey to Africa,” showcased the influence music from that continent had on the Secret Seven’s most-recent record, “7,” which landed on several critics’ Top Ten lists for 2010 and has been included on a handful of independent film soundtracks.
He said “traveling” to India for the second installment of the series only made sense.
“We’re using the music on the record as kind of a map,” he said. “We have so many different influences and so many of them appear on the record, that it makes sense to kind of showcase them individually.
“Plus, it gives us a chance to play with some of the musicians that are featured performers on the record.”
Sharp is no stranger to Indian music, having studied formally in San Francisco while living there several years ago. A bit of a musical chameleon, Sharp is as comfortable playing straight-ahead jazz as he is touring with punk-rock icons, The Melvins, as he did during the 1990s.
He said the Secret Seven’s “Journey to Africa” show at Kerrytown was such a success that he decided to turn it into a series. Future geographic themes will visit New Orleans and the Middle East, he said.
The septet is hard at work on a new studio record, from which one new composition, “Desert Sky” will be performed during the KCH show. Meanwhile, he said, a live recording culled from dates last summer, is scheduled for release in May.
“We’ve been very happy with the response we’ve received for the record and we’re just trying to keep the momentum going,” he said.