A truly free jazz player!
Sonny Sharrock was an American Jazz player, one of few guitarists in the first wave of free jazz in the 60s. He was known for his heavily chorded attack and his highly amplified bursts of feedback.
A peculiar thing was having a saxophone playing in harmony with the guitar line on a lot of tracks, something that sounds really awesome.
Sharrock was semi-retired for much of the 1970s, undergoing a divorce from wife/occasional collaborator Linda in 1978. In the intermittent years until producer/bassist Bill Laswell coaxed him out of retirement, he worked as both a chauffeur and a caretaker for mentally challenged children.
The first music I heard from Sonny was from his ‘Ask the ages’ album from 1991, the track was Once upon a time which starts with some kind of tribal drumming, and then Sonny comes into place with some strange riffs. At first I was… man, this is too weird… and it is, that whole track is super strange, but then I found that that is what free jazz is about. And then I listened to Who does she hope to be and that was a completely different story – super mellow track with brushes on the skins and a beautiful melody played by the guitar and saxophone, simply beautiful.
Check it out:
This is a good one too, The past adventures of Zydeco Honeycup – Great drumming there too!
Sonny was a unique character, he had the nicest songs ever, like the ones above, but he also had something more, something totally different and not enjoyable for most people. I’ll be honest, I don’t really like it but I know some people might. This track is considered to be avant, free-jazz – not my cup of tea really but here it is anyway:
What do you think? Only Sonny Sharrock eh?
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Sonny Sharrock is a jazz genius and an innovator bar none. He expanded the boundaries of jazz and music so far outside the box that he was at once free and unhindered by the standard boring norms of jazz and music.
I enjoy listening to Sonny’s music and am glad that he was courageous enough to take the first step out of the ordinary and show the rest of us what musical freedom is really about.