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Dave Sharp is a musician who knows his stuff, he is very much his name, I’m not going to lie. 7 (Vortex Jazz) is the name of the album by Dave Sharp’s Secret 7, and yes the album features seven track. Oddly enough, the Secret Seven features only four members, so there’s something going on here.
Sharp is joined by Chris Kaercher (saxophones, flute, and harmonica), Eric “Chucho” Wilhelm (drums/percussion), and Dale Grisa (Hammond B-3 and piano) and together they are jazz adventurists, willing to combine African roots and Latin rhythms in one song (”Africano”) while getting cool, blue, and calm in others (”Boop Bwee Ahh” and “Lootmar (Wind Song)”). They probably sound more powerful in a live setting, but this has a feel of a live performance and it’s quite intense. There’s a chemistry between Sharp and Kaercher, which extends to the two collaborating in the songwriting/arranging department, and when Wilhelm and Grisa jump in, it feels like something is about to happen but you don’t know what. The group are joined by a number of other musicians adding different colors and textures to these tracks, and they could arguably widen the depth of this mysterious 7, but this is unknown.
It seems the group want to aim high, for one of the bonus tracks is a radio edit of “Africano”, reduced by about 90 seconds although the full-length 7:11 take is worthy of airtime too. What might help them get a bit more airplay and attention is the second bonus track, a cover of Chuck Carbo’s funk classic “Can I Be Your Squeeze”. It’s unusual to hear the song, recorded 40 years after the original, so clean and crisp opposed to the grit of Carbo’s version, and perhaps it will help bring this song to a new generation.
Whatever the secret to 7, it will not be guarded for long.