The Alto Saxophone Wizardry of Ms. Sharel Cassity
I have had the pleasure of seeing alto saxophonist Sharel Cassity perform live twice, both times at Chicago's Jazz Showcase: https://www.jazzshowcase.com/. The Jazz Showcase is a great venue with great acoustics, so I was really able to hear the sounds of Ms. Cassity and her band very well. If you ever have a chance to make it to Chicago, the Jazz Showcase is Chicago's oldest operational jazz club: it was founded by Mr. Joe Segal (April 24, 1926 - August 10, 2020) in 1947, and it is now run by Joe Segal's son, Mr. Wayne Segal.
In 1947, Joe Segal, then a student at Chicago's Roosevelt University, wrote a letter to Charlie "Bird" Parker inviting him to come play in Chicago, and "Bird" accepted. Over the next several decades, Joe Segal gained the respect and admiration of jazz musicians worldwide, and I was blessed to have been introduced to the music of many great players by frequently going to the Jazz Showcase. As a developing saxophonist in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I would often go to the Jazz Showcase. Many times, I had never heard of the player or group being featured, but I learned to trust Joe Segal's ear: if they were allowed to play at the Jazz Showcase, then they MUST know how to play. I had never heard of Sharel Cassity, but in 2019, I saw that she was leading a group for a one week engagement at the Jazz Showcase. Joe Segal's ear never fails: I was blown away by her playing, and since then, I have bought all of her albums: https://www.sharelcassity.com/shop-1
Sharel's selected discography is here:
Sharel Cassity is one of those saxophonists that is blessed to have a sound that is like no else: you can recognize her after hearing a couple of notes. The only influence that I think that I hear in her playing is maybe Vincent Herring, but her style and sound are completely unique.
Sharel was based in New York for many years, but she recently relocated to Chicago. She teaches in a couple of Chicago universities, and she performs at jazz clubs throughout the Chicagoland area. She had a health scare in 2019 with post-Lyme disease, but she fully recovered, and Sharel is now playing better than ever. She also plays soprano saxophone in addition to her main alto sax. You can learn more about Sharel Cassity here: https://www.sharelcassity.com/
I know what you are thinking: "You've heaped so much praise upon Sharel; I want to hear what she sounds like!" Here is a fantastic performance of Sharel Cassity performing "The Good Life" with Monty Alexander, Christian McBride and Carl Allen: