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Mark Sherman: L. A. Sessions

Larry Taylor By

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Vibraphonist Mark Sherman has had a longstanding desire to release an album featuring some of his favorite bebop and standard tunes. Now, in L.A. Sessions, this dream comes true, with happy results.

These jazz gems from a half-century ago are played in the tradition, but Sherman and his cohorts lovingly add luster. Chief help comes from Bill Cunliffe, on Hammond B-3 organ (rather than his usual piano), and masterful guitarist John Chiodini, a favorite on the Southern California club scene.

Sherman has 30 years of recording, composing, and performing with top players and vocalists. Indicating his prowess, he topped Downbeat Magazine's Critics Poll in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Much influenced by Milt Jackson, his centerpiece here is an extended version of the great vibraphonist's classic "Bag's Groove." On this, he is laidback and mellow, embracing, midway, solid guitar, organ and drum solos.

Bop's progenitors are well represented. Dizzy Gillespie's 1942 standby, "Woody N' You," is a pleasure, as is Bud Powell's "Celia," another game-changing genre piece with its unmistakable and groundbreaking rhythmic repetition and chord tones. The quartet excels on both.

Sherman travels forward in time with Miles Davis' "Serpent's Tooth," featuring Charles Ruggiero's torrential drums, helping to create a swirling vibes-guitar tempest. Along the way, John Coltrane's "Moment's Notice" brings a post bop feel to the proceedings, while Sherman's original, "Far Away," with its haunting atmosphere, brings to mind Thelonious Monk's "'Round Midnight" from the earlier era.

If asked what bop was like, this CD could be used as an aural illustration. Not as authentic as listening to a pioneer like Charlie Parker, perhaps, but these enthusiastic recreations do prevail.

Track Listing: Woody N' You; Quasimodo; It Could Happen To You; Celia; Far Away; Whisper Not; Moment's Notice; Bag's Groove; Serpent's Tooth; Bonus Tracks: Quasimodo; Woody N' You; Celia.

Personnel: Mark Sherman: vibes; Bill Cunliffe: Hammond B3 organ; John Chiodini: guitar; Charles Ruggiero: drums.

Title: L. A. Sessions | Year Released: 2012 | Record Label: Miles High Records

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