A SHARED love of old and new music is what brought together the Karen Sharp Quartet, who appear for Sheffield Jazz tomorrow.
Sax player Karen, who pulled together a top line-up of Nikki Iles on piano, drummer Steve Brown and Dave Green on bass, puts the emphasis on playing with energy, commitment and fun.
Karen took up the tenor saxophone whilst studying composition at the Royal Northern College of Music after listening to a recording of Dexter Gordon.
She moved to London in 1999, becoming a busy freelance musician.
In March 2004 Karen began a three-year stint in Humphrey Lyttelton’s band and during this time she was also busy with her quintet, producing three albums and playing at top jazz venues in the UK.
She has worked alongside Sir John Dankworth, Danny Moss, Alan Barnes, Barbara Lea, Dick Sudhalter, Joe Temperley, Mark Nightingale, Annie Whitehead, Ellyn Rucker, Roy Williams, Scott Robinson, Ken Peplowski and blues singer Elkie Brooks.
Karen appeared at the Ginza Festival, Tokyo in 2006 with British singer Tina May and Nikki Iles, and in 2007 she played at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival with South African singer Esther Miller and US trumpet star Jeremy Pelt.
Karen now works regularly alongside Robert Fowler, with whom she has just recorded an album called Brandy and Beer, celebrating the great tenor partnership of AL Cohn and Zoot Sims.
She has also launched a new quartet project with Nikki Iles.
Pianist and composer Nikki was a founder member of the innovative Creative Jazz Orchestra, working with Anthony Braxton, Mike Gibbs, Vince Mendoza and Mark-Anthony Turnage.
She has also played with Kenny Wheeler, Art Farmer, Julian Arguelles, Stan Sulzmann, Norma Winstone, Tony Coe, Tina May and Rufus Reid. Her music has been commissioned and performed by influential ensembles such as The London Sinfionetta, The Creative Jazz Orchestra, the London Philharmonic’s ‘Renga’ ensemble and Tim Garland’s Underground Orchestra.
Nikki has received an IAJE award in America for her services to jazz and was nominated For a Parliamentary Jazz Award.
Manchester-born Steve Brown started playing drums in 1983 at the age of 15 and has become one of the most sought-after drummers in the country.
By 1992 he was playing with visiting Americans, including Harry Allen, when they toured in the area. He studied in New York in the early 1990s with Carl Allen and John Riley and played some dates with Harry Allen and was a finalist in the European Jazz Competition in Germany as part of the Jim Hunt Quartet.
In addition to being part of Scott Hamilton’s Quartet since 2000, Steve is a member of John Bunch’s British trio, and has recorded a number of albums with both of these groups.
The veteran member of the group, Londoner Dave Green started on tea-chest bass in local skiffle groups before buying his first double bass at 15.
Local gigs followed, often with neighbour Charlie Watts and trumpeter Brian Jones. Turning professional in 1963, he worked with Keith Ingham, multi-instrumentalist Pete Shade, the Don Rendell Quintet and Benny Goodman.
The Karen Sharp Quartet play at the Millennium Hall in Ecclesall Road tomorrow, Friday February 1, at 8.30pm.