Gabriel Roth still remembers the first time he met Sharon Jones: It was 1996, and Jones had come in to sing back-up on a session for '70s soul singer Lee Fields that Roth was working on.
"She's got so much energy, and there's a vitality to her - she's got a lot of soul and she's got a lot of heart, and everybody who's hung out with her for a second knows that,'' Roth said.
"I remember being captivated by her from when I first met her - that's what I remember. I remember her blowing us away with her singing, too. ... Some songs on that record that she ended up singing leads on that she wasn't supposed to sing leads on, but she sounded good, so she kept singing, you know?''
Recalling that same session in a 2009 interview, Jones said, "Those young guys just were looking for a singer to do 45s, back-up singing for Lee Fields, and that was my calling, that was my time. I just feel everything has its time.''
Fifteen years after that first meeting, Jones is front-and-center while Roth is holding down bass, production and songwriting duties and more for soul and funk crew Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, coming to Red Bank for a show on Saturday at the Count Basie Theatre.
The co-founder of Daptone Records, which boasts a roster that includes Jones and the Dap-Kings and a number of stellar acts that he refers to as "the family,'' Roth described his goal for the sound of the Dap-Kings' latest album, 2010's "I Learned the Hard Way'': "We're just trying to make it sound good, you know? Make it feel good.''
Undoubtedly Jones and the Dap-Kings' most elaborately arranged and expansive effort yet, "I Learned the Hard Way'' was recorded using Roth and Daptone's signature old-school analog techniques, delivering a slice of classic soul featuring orchestra parts that Roth said were recorded live in one day to a single track of a tape machine.
"It was all mixed live, and we had to work out the arrangement live ... we couldn't go back later and say, 'Oh, we want to take the French horn out' or 'turn the cello up,' that was all done while everything was going down. ... One of my favorite parts of making the record was that day, man,'' he said. "It was a lot of pressure, but it really came out great man, I was really happy with that.''
However, with the ever-expanding sound of Jones and the Dap-Kings' records comes the challenge of bringing these carefully crafted numbers to the stage as part of the band's acclaimed live show.
"We definitely had to tweak a lot of arrangements to try to see how they would work live, and we tried some things that didn't work and certain things had to be different tempos, and guitars are playing piano parts, and horns are playing string parts, and you know, we definitely had to re-arrange certain things, but now we got it to a point where the stuff all feels really good. We're playing everything off the new record live,'' Roth explained.
And with the band's increased exposure - including appearances on "The Late Show with David Letterman,'' "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson'' and "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon'' - comes the transition to playing in large venues and seated theaters, such as the Basie.
"We've played so many festivals and theaters and stuff over the last few years (that) it's definitely not intimidating, and it's not awkward or anything, it just takes a little extra effort to try to get out there and connect,'' Roth said.
SHARON JONES AND THE DAP-KINGS‚ with special guest Charles Bradley‚ 8 p.m. Saturday‚ Count Basie Theatre, 99 Monmouth St., Red Bank, $19.50 to $39.50‚ 732-842-9000; http://www.countbasietheatre.org