Shakatak is an English jazz-funk band, founded in 1980.

Shakatak performing at Knebworth Park as part of the Capital Radio Jazz Festival, 1982.

Shakatak scored a number of chart entries, including two Top 10 hits in the UK Singles Chart, "Night Birds" (1982) and "Down on the Street" (1984), plus a further 12 entries in the Guinness Book of British Hit Singles.[2] The group are still active and popular throughout the world, particularly in Japan and the Far East, and generally produce a new album every two years on JVC Records.

From their first release in August 1980, (the Bill Sharpe composition "Steppin'" on the Polydor record label), and their first album, Drivin' Hard, the band's singles and albums have entered the charts regularly.

Contents Edit


  • 1 Career
  • 2 Personnel
  • 3 Discography
    • 3.1 Albums
    • 3.2 Compilations
    • 3.3 Singles
    • 3.4 Videos
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links

Career[edit] Edit

It was the release of "Easier Said Than Done" that gave the band the radio exposure needed for their first top-twenty hit. This record introduced their instrumental-unison vocal sound to a much wider audience, and the track stayed in the UK Singles Chart for seventeen weeks. The follow-up, "Night Birds", was their first single to reach the top ten, and the album of the same name gave Shakatak their first gold album, entering at number four and remaining in the charts for twenty-eight weeks.[2] By now a major international act, the success of the release gave them the number-one jazz album slot in Japan, and attracted interest across Europe and South America. "Night Birds" was used in the feature film, Away We Go, directed by Sam Mendes, and was used as the demonstration song on many Casio piano keyboards such as the Casio CT-460.

Two more albums – Invitations and Out of This World – were recorded in 1982 and 1983, resulting in several more chart hits, and paving the way for the next major breakthrough in the band's career. With a subtle change in musical direction, yet still retaining the band's identity, Jill Saward (formerly of Fusion Orchestra, Brandy and Citizen Gang) became their sole lead singer to make Shakatak's fifth album,Down on the Street. The resulting single releases "Down on the Street" and "Watching You" had great success, and brought them attention in new parts of the world. The following year saw the release of the group's first live album, which was recorded in both Tokyo and London.

The seventh album, Day by Day, saw the development of songwriting by all of the band members. In 1986 Saward announced that she was expecting a baby later the same year. This news allowed the band to ease their hectic touring schedule for a while, and enabled them to concentrate purely on recording for a brief period. The band were in the top five foreign acts in Japan, and after winning the coveted Silver Award in the Tokyo International Song Festival, Shakatak were asked to produce an extra album each year exclusively for the Japanese market. By this time they had two extra albums released there entitled Into the Blue and Golden Wings. Both sold well, the latter winning the "Best Instrumental Album 1987" at the Japanese Phonograph Record Association Awards.

In 1988, Shakatak was commissioned to write the official song for the 1988 Kenwood Cup yacht race entitled Racing With The Wind which was used in Japanese Kenwood advertisements and was released on an album called Da Makaniexclusively released in Japan.

However, following this success the band felt it was time that they re-directed their efforts back to singles, and an album for release to the rest of the world. The result was Something Special, closely followed by the night club and chart hit "Mr Manic & Sister Cool" from their next LP, Manic and Cool.

In the 1990s, the band had success in the US when they had two albums that went to No 1 in the contemporary jazz charts, and were also awarded the Japanese Grammy for best international instrumental album six years running.

Shakatak continue to appear regularly throughout the world with recent festival performances at Jakjazz, the Jakata International Jazz Festival, Bangkok, Hua Hin and the Bratislava Jazz Day. They make annual appearances at the Billboard Clubs in Japan, and the Pizza Express Jazz Room in London, plus numerous other concert and club performances.

The band celebrated their thirtieth anniversary year in 2010.

Bassist George Anderson released his second solo album, Expressions, on 3 September 2012 through Secret Records. Coming three years after his first album Positivity, this album again had Anderson writing, arranging and producing all of the tracks.

Keyboardist Bill Sharpe worked with American jazz pianist Don Grusin on a joint project called Geography released in 2007. Sharpe's second collaboration with Grusin, Trans Atlantica, was released on 3 September 2012. It was also issued through Secret Records, and included Geography as a special 2-CD package.

Personnel[edit] Edit

Current members
  • Jill Saward — vocals, percussion, flute (1980–present)[3]
  • Bill Sharpe — keyboards (1980–present)[4]
  • Roger Odell — drums (1980–present)[5][6]
  • George Anderson — bass (1981–present)[7]
Touring musicians
  • Alan Wormald — guitar
  • Jacqui Hicks — (backing vocals, sax & flute)
  • Debby Bracknell — (backing vocals, flute)
Former members
  • Keith Winter — electric guitar (1980-1990)
  • Jackie Rawe — vocals (1980-1983)[8]
  • Nigel Wright — keyboards (1980-1982)
  • Steve Underwood — bass guitar (1980-1981)
  • Norma Lewis — vocals (1983)
  • Tracy Ackerman — vocals (1980s-1990s)
  • Lorna Bannon — vocals (1982)
  • Fridrik Karlsson — electric guitar (1990s-2000s)[9]

Discography[edit] Edit

Albums[edit] Edit

  • 1981: Drivin' Hard
  • 1982: Night Birds
  • 1982: Invitations
  • 1983: Out of This World
  • 1984: Down on the Street
  • 1984: Shakatak Live in Japan (live)
  • 1985: Live! (February 1985) (live)
  • 1985: City Rhythm
  • 1986: Into the Blue (Issued in Japan only)
  • 1987: Golden Wings (Issued in Japan only)
  • 1987: Never Stop Your Love (Issued in Japan only)(Japanese version of Manic and Cool)
  • 1988: Manic & Cool
  • 1988: Da Makani (Issued in Japan only)
  • 1989: Niteflite (Issued in Japan only)
  • 1989: Turn the Music Up
  • 1990: Fiesta (Issued in Japan only)
  • 1990: Christmas Eve (Issued in Japan only)
  • 1991: Bitter Sweet
  • 1991: Utopia (Issued in Japan only)
  • 1993: Street Level
  • 1993: Under the Sun
  • 1993: The Christmas Album
  • 1994: Full Circle
  • 1997: Let The Piano Play
  • 1998: View From The City
  • 1998: Live at Ronnie Scott's
  • 2001: Under Your Spell
  • 2003: Blue Savannah
  • 2005: Easier Said Than Done (live album)
  • 2005: Beautiful Day
  • 2007: Emotionally Blue
  • 2009: Afterglow
  • 2011: Across The World
  • 2013: Once Upon A Time (The Acoustic Sessions)
  • 2014: On The Corner

Compilations[edit] Edit

  • 1988: The Coolest Cuts
  • 1990: Perfect Smile (Issued in the US only)
  • 1991: Open Your Eyes (Issued in the US only, with 1 brand new track Hungry)
  • 1991: Remix Best Album
  • 1991: Night Moves
  • 1996: The Collection
  • 1996: Jazz Connections Volumes 1-6 (6 compilation albums of their exclusive Japanese albums from the 80's and early 90's)
  • 1998: Shinin' On
  • 1999: Magic
  • 1999: Jazz In The Night
  • 2000: The Collection Volume 2
  • 2002: Dinner Jazz
  • 2003: Smooth Solos
  • 2008: The Best Of Shakatak
  • 2008: The Ultimate Collection
  • 2009: The Coolest Cuts 12" Mixes Volume 1
  • 2009: The Coolest Cuts 12" Mixes Volume 2
  • 2012: The 12 Inch Mixes
  • 2013: More 12 Inch Mixes
  • 2014: Snowflakes & Jazzamatazz
  • A three-part compilation album set, compiled by Roger Odell:
    • Sunset Jazz
    • After Dark
    • Drive Time

Singles[edit] Edit

Year Single[10][11] Peak


1980 "Steppin'"
"Feels Like the Right Time" 41
1981 "Living in the UK" 52
"Brazilian Dawn" 48
"Easier Said Than Done" 12
1982 "Night Birds" 9
"Streetwalkin'" 38
"Invitations" 24
"Stranger" 43
1983 "Dark is the Night" 15
"If You Could See Me Now" 49
"Out of This World" 83
1984 "Down on the Street" 9
"Don't Blame It on Love" 55
1985 "City Rhythm" 76
"Day by Day" (with Al Jarreau) 53
1987 "Something Special"
"Mr. Manic and Sister Cool" 56
1988 "Dr. Dr."
"Time of My life"
1989 "Turn the Music Up"
"Back to the Groove"
1991 "Bitter Sweet"
1993 "One Day at a Time"
1997 "Let the Piano Play"
1998 "Move a Little Closer"

Videos[edit] Edit

  • 1984: Twilight Sensation [Laserdisc]
  • 1986: The Purely Music Concert Series [Laserdisc]
  • 2004: Live at the Playhouse [DVD]
  • 2004: In Concert [DVD]
  • 2005: Live At Duo Music Exchange [DVD]
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.