Archive for Clarence “C” Sharpe”

More music with Clarence “C” Sharpe

Posted in Clarence C Sharpe, jazz with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 16, 2012 by crownpropeller

A while after I out up some music featuring legendary alto saxophonist Clarence “C” Sharpe in this posting,  canadian born multiinstrumentalist Phil Dwyer contacted me, writing that he found a tape  fom Jerry Thomas’ loft including Sharpe and Sonny Fortune on alto sax, Steve Grossman and Phil Dwyer himself on tenor. Hakim Jamil was playing bass, Jerry Thomas was playing the drums. Phil did not know the pianist and did not get to know him later, so he does not know his name.

clarence_c_sharpe_blueClarence “C” Sharpe. Photo by Otto Flückiger

Here is what Phil wrote to me about this session:

It took place in a loft in Brooklyn belonging to Jerry Thomas and his wife (Mary??). Anyway this was back in 1983 or so (could have been early 1984), during a time where I was living in New York and hanging out a lot with Steve Grossman. As I remember, late one afternoon I hopped in a cab with Grossman to go to Jerry Thomas’ loft for a session. I think it may have been in the Red Hook area, just based on my recollection of the route we took. Anyway I remember it being a nice big, welcoming space, Jerry’s wife made some food for us, it was comfortable. Tough neighbourhood.

Phil Dwyer

Phil Dwyer around 1984/1985. Courtesy Phil Dwyer

I would have just turned 18 at the time this tape was made. I don’t remember recording it, but maybe Steve did and gave it to me. I had been spending way too much time with Grossman and at the time this tape was made I recall being under the influence of [different stuff] (…)

“C” was generally up for a party, at the time he was the same age I am now (46) but had a lot of street miles on him. He totally lit it up on these two tunes though. I hadn’t heard him play before this, but we ended up hanging out a bit in the year or so after this.

Phil was so generous to allow me to post 45 minutes of music from that evening on my blog. You hear the band playing two long tracks.

First we have the standard “Star Eyes”, with the following solo order:

Sharpe, Grossman, Fortune, Dwyer, unknown pianist, Hakim

The second tune is Miles Davis’ composition “Vierd Blues”. The order of soloists:

Sharpe, Dwyer, Fortune, Grossman (fade out)

I know that there are many people out there who cherish every newly found music featuring Clarence C Sharpe and this here is a very fine example indeed, also as regarding the other musicians and last but not least the sound quality which really is fine regarding the circumstances. So my heartfelt thanks go out to Phil Dwyer!


105 minutes with legendary Clarence “C” Sharpe

Posted in Clarence C Sharpe, jazz with tags , , , , , , , on May 30, 2012 by crownpropeller

UPDATE (June 7, 2012): Bart Egers was so nice to send me a link to the Jazz Loft Project, where you can hear – amongst other interesting stuff from the W. Eugene Smith Collection – a minor blues  with Zoot Sims and Clarence Sharpe, saxophone; Dick Scott, drums; Vinnie Burke, bass, recorded in March 1964. Thanks!

On the internet you unfortunately  will not find a lot of of information about alto saxophonist Clarence “C” Sharpe  (1937–1990). But almost all pages that reference Sharpe use adjectives like legendary and underground.

Clarence “C” Sharpe at the “Tin Palace”, N.Y.C., April 8, 1980.
Photo by Otto Flückiger

Despite the fact that he was first  heard on a Lee Morgan LP for Blue Note (Indeed!, recorded  on November 4, 1956), Clarence “C” Sharpe never had much of a career.

Clarence “C” Sharpe’s first recording session was for
Lee Morgan’s Blue Note LP “Indeed”.

Tom Lord ‘s Jazz Discography just mentions four sessions: the one with Morgan, a session on August 26, 1969 under Archie Shepp’s name for Impulse (For Losers), one in 1984 with drummer Monky Kobayashi’s N.Y. Bebop Band for Paddlewheel. And finally one in January 1985 under pianist Freddie Redd’s name for Uptown.

Sharpe was born in St. Louis and grew up in Philadelphia where he played with people like McCoy Tyner and Philly Joe Jones. He probably already lived in N.Y.C. when he recorded with Morgan in 1956. It is not quite clear why nothing much happened for him after that – but several internet sources mention problems with drugs. For a while (when?) he mostly played in the subways of N.Y.C., at other times he had regular engagements with his own group or as a sideman.

In spring 1980 Clarence “C” Sharpe was playing with his quintet at the “Tin Palace” at 315 Bowery. My friend Otto Flückiger was there on the evening of April 8 (Guenti, were you also there?) and brought his tape recorder with him as well as his camera (click on photos to enlarge):

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