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You can’t really argue with a full ride to Julliard, 5 consecutive appearances on Downbeat’s “Rising Star Alto Saxophone” list, 3 album releases, 3 of her own bands, mentors Jimmy Heath, James Moody, and the host of fans that come out to see Sharel Cassity perform as a leader, sideman, and all-around musical powerhouse. With more than 15 years experience on the New York jazz scene, Cassity has established herself as a pillar of the alto sax and contemporary straight-ahead jazz—a strong, quick, multi-hued player, with an unwavering desire to innovate.

 

Originally from Yukon, Oklahoma at the age of 12, Cassity has worked in New York since graduating from the New School’s jazz program in 2005. She attended the highly selective master’s program at Juilliard on a full-ride, where she received numerous honors, including ASCAP’s Young Composers Award in 2007.

 

Since then, Cassity has put out 3 well-received albums as a leader: Just for You (DW Records, 2007); Relentless (Jazz Legacy Productions, 2008); and Manhattan Romance (Venus Japan, 2014), an album of standards which features bandmates Cyrus Chestnut, Lewis Nash, and Rufus Reid. About Manhattan Romance, Tom Pierce from All About Jazz noted, “Cassity is especially impressive with her firm, dark

tones and excellent control when simply playing the melodies—an underrated talent.”

 

That tone is what’s so recognizable and so often requested—Cassity has performed with PattiAustin, Gary Bartz, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Joe Chambers, Paquito D’Rivera, Aretha Franklin, Roy Hargrove, Christian McBride, and Diane Reeves in over 100 venues worldwide. She leads the Sharel Cassity Quintet, Sharel Cassity Standards Quartet, and her all-female electric project Elektra.

 

In short, she’s putting in that work. And this is just the first leg of her journey. Stay tuned to this dynamic performer, composer, and bandleader—there’s much more to come.