Jazz bassist performs at Buckman with classical ensemble Fidelio

Allison Corneau

Music was alive on campus on Feb. 5 as classical ensemble and artists-in-residence Fidelio welcomed bassist and composer Avery Sharpe to the Clarice L. Buckman Theatre for an intimate performance of numerous classical and jazz standards.

Sharpe, back for his second appearance at Quinnipiac, was featured on string bass and was accompanied by Fidelio’s Kyle Aho on piano and Harry Clark on cello.

Kevin Sharpe backed up his brother on drums. The concert, titled “Clazzic Jazz, Jazz Clazzics,” showcased over ten selections, including some that Sharpe composed himself. The evening began with “Suite Francaise, Op. 114,” by composer Paul Balezaire.

To get Sharpe to return for a second appearance at Quinnipiac was seemingly easy for Fidelio. “They just asked me to appear,” he said. “I have worked with Fidelio for about seven years.”

The bassist’s professionalism and confident stage presence was evident to the audience of mostly Hamden locals. Some students attended the performance as a class requirement for the music department.

Members of Fidelio showed why they are worthy of being Quinnipiac’s Artists-in-residence, especially in the elegantly serene selection, “Chanson d’Alsace.”

During this song, Aho and Clark began with Sharpe, but let him take center stage midway through the piece, and he really showed the crowd his skill.

Afterwards, Sharpe said he enjoys playing live just as much as recording albums.

“I like the live energy from playing in front of a crowd. You can build a rapport with them,” he said.

The accomplished musician has recorded five albums as a band leader and dozens of others appearing as a guest with artists including McCoy Tyner, Archie Shepp, the legendary Dizzy Gillespie, Pat Methany and Wynton Marsalis.

His most recent album, “Extended Family III: Family Values,” was recorded on the artist’s own record label, JKNM Records in 2001.

According to Sharpe, recording albums allows for a unique chance to hear what he and band mates sound like, so he can tweak his sound until perfection.

Sharpe encouraged audience members to purchase his records, jokingly saying, “Buy them. I have two kids in college.”

One of Sharpe’s better-received tunes of the evening was a children’s song that he put his own spin on.

Sharpe and company performed “Brother John,” a song that had a soft spot in Sharpe’s mind.

“I had a happy childhood,” he said. “If ‘Brother John’ had grown up in Harlem, N.Y., he might have played the tune like this.”

Sharpe’s dedication was again evident in his strong message to young musicians. “You have to be bitten by the music bug,” he said. “If you want to perform, do it no matter what. It’s like the Nike commercial, you have to ‘just do it.'”

His said his musical beginning came very naturally.

“It’s something I had to do,” he said. “Regardless of money, regardless of anything. To me, there’s God, family and then there’s music.”