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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Across The World

Secret SECCD 035



1. Across the World
2. So High
3. Waterfall
4. Love Holds the Key
5. Real Thing
6. Chance of a Lifetime
7. Smile
8. Funktional
9. Lovers Hideaway
10. My Heart in 2 Places
11. Blue Dawn
12. Trouble
13. Rise and Fall

Bill Sharpe - Keyboards
Jill Saward - Vocals
Roger Odell - Drums
George Anderson - Bass
Alan Wormald - Guitars
Jacqui Hicks, Debby Bracknell - Backing vocals
Derek Nash - Saxes
Don Grusin - Synthesizer (track 8)


30 years after they released their first album, the group called Shakatak is still thriving, although they now seem to be most popular in Japan. And their style is still jazz-funk, at the lighter end of the musical spectrum: subtle rather than heavy, with neat jazz solos preventing sameness.

Understandably there have been some personnel changes in 30 years. Jill Saward is now the principal vocalist, and guitarist Keith Winter dropped out to be replaced by guest Alan Wormald. Another change is that several of the band members now contribute compositions. Bill Sharpe still writes most of the tunes - either with Roger Odell or Jill Saward, but George Anderson supplies four tunes, Jill composed two, and Roger one on his own.

The group's biggest asset continues to be Bill Sharpe, whose inventiveness at the keyboard remains remarkably varied. And Bill can still come up with catchy tunes which make you want to sing along and even dance. His jazz sensibility helps to keep jazz at the band's core, when one suspects that they may be tempted to become ever more pop-oriented. Another jazz element here is versatile guest saxist Derek Nash - a fine soloist, resembling Dave Sanborn on Real Thing.

Of the other individual numbers, the title-track has rich harmonies and the classic Shakatak sound. Waterfall is an atmospheric Bill Sharpe instrumental, with what sounds like Derek Nash on soprano sax. Chance of a Lifetime is refreshingly gentle, though keeping the seductive jazz-funk rhythm. Keyboardist Don Grusin is a surprise guest on Funktional, playing a lyrical synth solo. Lovers Hideaway has a swaying Latin beat, with Jill Saward at the top of her range managing to sound like Michael Jackson. My Heart in 2 Places has a poignant Mexican feel.

I worry a bit about the possibility of Shakatak eschewing jazz in favour of soul or funk, but this new CD shows that the two genres still co-exist comfortably in the band.

Tony Augarde

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