KAREN SHARP took up the tenor while studying composition at the Royal Northern College of Music. A friend introduced her to a recording of Dexter Gordon and she was hooked, soon joining the college jazz band and finding regular work in a soul band based in Liverpool. She relocated to London in 1999 and has become a busy freelance musician working with many top class musicians such as Scott Hamilton, John Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Danny Moss, Alan Barnes, Barbara Lea, Ken Peplowski, Mark Nightingale and Jacqui Dankworth.
In March 2004 Karen began a three-year stint in Humphrey Lyttelton’s band, playing alongside Joe Temperley, Stacey Kent, Acker Bilk and singer Elkie Brooks. She was also working to establish her own quintet with which she produced three albums and played at top jazz venues in the UK. In 2006 Karen played at the Ginza Festival, Tokyo, with singer Tina May and Nikki Iles, and appeared at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival 2007, with US trumpet star Jeremy Pelt and South African singer Esther Miller.
A busy and popular musician with an accessible, distinctive style, Karen has won the tenor saxophone category of the British Jazz Awards on numerous occasions. She tours regularly with her quartet with Nikki Iles, Dave Green and Steve Brown, and she plays with numerous larger ensembles including Robert Fowler’s ‘Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band’, Steve Waterman’s Big Band and the Stan Tracey Big Band.
She recorded with Alan Barnes and Dave O’Higgins on “Oh Gee”, a project for five saxophones; she played with Guy Barker’s big band and Clare Teal as part of a BBC Proms Season, and has recorded Alan Barnes’ ‘A Christmas Carol’. Her 2011 quartet album, ‘Spirit’ has garnered superb reviews.
The Karen Sharp Quartet performed at Fleet Jazz Club in September 2017 – a great set of photographs of the gig are viewable on FJC’s Facebook page or on our gig page.