Saxophonist Sharel Cassity is a nationally acclaimed saxophonist prominent on New York and Chicago jazz scenes having appeared on the Today Show, Good Morning America, The Colbert Show, and listed as "Rising Star Alto Saxophone" in Downbeat Magazine for the past 12 years. Sharel has worked with with Multi-Grammy Award-winning artists Jennifer Hudson, Natalie Merchant, Aretha Franklin, Vanessa Williams, & Trisha Yearwood among others, performed alongside NEA Jazz Masters and Grammy Award wining artists Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Jimmy Heath, and Christian McBride, and has been a featured guest soloist with the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. As a bandleader, Sharel's five albums have received top-rated reviews in publications like the The Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, JazzTimes, Jazziz, Downbeat, American Indian News, and a Saxophone Journal cover story. Cassity earned a Masters Degree under full scholarship at Juilliard in NYC, and gives back to the next generation by teaching at Columbia College Chicago, DePaul University, and Elgin Community College. Sharel is a current member of the Dizzy Gillespie Afro Latin Experience and the Dizzy Gillespie All Star Big Band, owner of the record label "Relsha Music," directs her educational program "Jazz Up,” and is a proud Yamaha and Vandoren Performing Artist.
"Be the Change", by Sharel Cassity performed at the Kennedy Center 8/11/17. Written for social change and social justice, performed by her diverse band, Elektra. Running time 7:15
Sharel Cassity Quartet, live at Smalls in NYC 2019. Song is "I'm Not So Sure", by Cedar Walton. Trumpeter Roy Hargrove recorded this and was a mentor to Sharel
Sharel Cassity at Andy's Jazz Club, Chicago. "Soulful", by Roy Hargrove 7/24/21 Running time :10:01, (2:50-3:40 is hight of sax solo)
All three are live performances in different settings. I did not submit any straight ahead jazz, which is another very strong aspect of my work and also very easy to find through Spotify or online. "Be the Change" was part of my electric project, the Smalls and Andy's performances are an example of my quartet performances. I'm often told that my live performances far exceed my online videos, and I know I need better videos. But my entire body of work ranges from classical music to early jazz, modern jazz, and modern pop and funk.
I have released 6 albums as a bandleader and performed on over 50 other recordings as sideman, and my work has been reviewed in publications like the Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Downbeat, and Jazz Times. I have been composing and leading bands for 15 years around the globe, and am one of the front running female jazz saxophonists today. My early years in NYC were spent apprenticing under jazz masters, and I have spent time playing with pop artists Jennifer Hudson and Aretha Franklin. I am a Juilliard grad, professor at 3 universities in Chicago, and am equally skilled at teaching as playing.
I compose and perform with themes of social change, positivity, & inspiration. I aim to carry the audience on a journey with me, giving them backstories to compositions and my experience. I believe my work should have both musical integrity and accessibility; I read my audience so that I am able to play music that speaks to my audience, which changes depending on age & background, while maintaining a high level of skill. This means that each performance will be different, sometimes vastly different, from more modern and funky songs including pop covers to fresh takes on straight ahead, early swing jazz standards.
Programs for Specific Audience(s) Expertise
For the above 50 audience, I play mostly jazz standards and songs they would recognize. For hispanic audiences, I play more jazz influenced by Dizzy Gillespie, Chano Pozo, Luis Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim, and more Latin classic staples. For younger audiences (under 50) I play music from their generation--anything from Nirvana, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Lady Gaga, Lizzo, to the Super Mario brothers Theme & Pink Panther for little ones--all in a jazz format.
Traditional Folk/Ethnic Artform Statement
I am not African American, but I play Black American Music. I strongly believe that jazz and other music created by Black Americans plays an undeniable role in our musical culture and heritage as Americans as well as the world's popular music. Also having Cherokee descent, I draw much inspiration form my upbringing around the Native reservations and the music of the Native people.
2833 Forestview Drive
Carpentersville, IL 60110