Mark Sherman (The Audiophile Society)
by Scott Yanow
Mark Sherman has had a wide-ranging career. He studied classical piano and percussion, played drums in a trio with Kenny Kirkland, performed with Wynton Marsalis and was a fixture on Broadway. A busy studio musician on drums, percussion, piano and vibraphone, he worked with everyone from Peggy Lee to Larry Coryell. Sherman has led at least 18 albums and since 1997 has been best known as a vibraphonist. However in recent years he has focused more on piano (his first instrument), displaying both impressive technique and an original style within jazz’ modern mainstream.
Bright Light features Sherman exclusively on piano in a quartet with Joe Morganelli (trumpet and flugelhorn), Dean Johnson (bass) and Tim Horner (drums); this unit was frequently Sherman’s group during 2006-12. They perform seven of the leader’s songs plus three jazz standards.
The first three numbers (“Bright Light”, “Uplifting” and “Miles In Front”), all by Sherman, are joyful performances with original chord changes, speedy double-time lines by Magnarelli during his solos and fine spots for the leader. The mood shifts with Arthur Hamilton’s “Cry Me A River”, an emotional trio outing with Sherman putting plenty of feeling into the standard’s melody. “Suddenly” is his tribute to the late pianist Frank Kimbrough. It is more upbeat than somber, celebrating his life rather than being excessively mournful. Sherman jams a midtempo blues with the trio (“Blues On The Run”) and plays with sensitivity on his ballad “For EH”, a song with one of his most memorable melodies. The remainder of the program consists of a swinging version of Joe Henderson’s “Serenity”, a trio exploration of Bud Powell’s bop classic “Hallucinations” and the fiery “Eternal Sound”.
This outing makes the case that, in addition to his other talents, Sherman is a top-notch jazz pianist.
For more information, visit theaudiophilesociety.com. This project is at Smalls Sep. 20th. See Calendar.