Mark Sherman Quartet: Live at the Bird's Eye (2008)
Sherman's compositions are deceptively simple. The opening pieces, "Tip Top Blues" and "The Winning Life," are based on a basic blues form and then a simple theme respectively, but both add the aggressive post-bop rhythm and fast chord changes which act to ignite some remarkable solos from all players, all the while keeping their signature tight interplay. The subsequent pieces, the slower "Trust" and Farnham's "Hope," see the quartet exploring the melodic options presented by the lyrical themes. "Hardship," the closing piece of the first disc, leads the quartet to an intense performance of a simple blues theme, which is used as a launching pad for some great solos by Sherman and Farnham.
The second disc stresses the formative influences of the quartet. It begins with "Explorations," which is dedicated to the harmonic innovations of John Coltrane and again features tight interplay throughout the complicated chord changes. The cover of "You Don't Know What Love Is" places the standard in a hard-swinging Latin context, while "There Is No Greater Love" is interpreted in a more faithful manner. The quartet concludes the set with the encore "Moon River," another standard arranged by Sherman with emphasis on the rhythmic possibilities of the beautiful original melody.
There are not many surprises here, just a great band that enjoys to play. Sherman can be believed when he says that he is happiest when he is performing live; this innocent happiness shines throughout this live release.
Track Listing: CD 1: Tip Top Blues; The Winning life; Trust; Hope; Hardship. CD 2: Explorations; You Don't Know What love Is; There Is No Greater Love; Tip Top Rhythm; Moon River.
Personnel: Mark Sherman: vibraphone; Allen Farnham: piano; Dean Johnson: bass; Tim Horner: drums.
Record Label: Miles High Records