158

Mark Sherman: Spiral Staircase/High Rollin'

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
Mark Sherman: Spiral Staircase/High Rollin' Vibraphonist Mark Sherman has some pretty fair credentials. The Julliard graduate spent six years working in Peggy Lee's group alongside Grady Tate, Mike Renzi, and Jay Leonhart. He's played gigs with Mel Torme, toured with Jackie & Roy and Ruth Brown, and recorded with everyone from Liza Minelli to Lena Horne to Jon Hendricks. In 1986, he cut a solo album for Columbia after Julliard classmate Wynton Marsalis offered his endorsement. More recently, he produced two albums for guitarist Larry Coryell.

So it should come as no surprise that Sherman can play a little. Make that a lot. On two recent solo outings on his own Miles High label, Sherman proves himself a bold and expressive improviser on the vibes, as well as piano and synthesizer. He has a sophisticated musical sensibility that moves easily from heated post-bop to thoughtful balladry, with (alas) some lighter pop-jazz fare mixed in.

Of the two discs, 1997's Spiral Staircase gets the nod here. The album features Sherman on vibes and piano joined by ringers like drummer Ronnie Burrage, bassist Lonnie Plaxico, guitarist Rodney Jones, and an outstanding saxophonist named Tim Hegarty. This is a mostly straight-ahead affair with some strong Sherman originals, plus covers of "What a Wonderful World" (the one Louis Armstrong had a hit with) and the classic "Alone Together," performed at an unusually revved-up tempo. Sherman's playing throughout is superb and the ensemble supports him splendidly.

1998's High Rollin' again shows off Sherman's virtuosity, particularly his keyboard and programming skills. In addition to playing the vibes, Sherman provides all the bass and drum parts himself, with saxophonist Hegarty the only other musician appearing on most tracks. Electric guitarist Al Orlo is featured on two cuts and has some nice moments.

Sherman appears to be moving in more of a pop/funk direction with this album. And it's certainly a fine effort in that vein. You're not likely to hear better playing on an album of mostly light jazz any time soon. It would be nice, though, to hear a musician of such undeniable accomplishment tackling some more challenging material.

More information on Mark Sherman can be found at his Web page: http://www.jazzcorner.com/sherman/

Title: Spiral Staircase/High Rollin' | Year Released: 1999


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read I Believe In You CD/LP/Track Review I Believe In You
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Morning Sun CD/LP/Track Review Morning Sun
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 18, 2017
Read The Conscience CD/LP/Track Review The Conscience
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Harlem CD/LP/Track Review Harlem
by James Nadal
Published: August 18, 2017
Read Open Book CD/LP/Track Review Open Book
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: August 17, 2017
Read Stolen Moments CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 17, 2017
Read "PausaLive" CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read "Sir Nebula" CD/LP/Track Review Sir Nebula
by Doug Collette
Published: September 18, 2016
Read "Find Your Wings" CD/LP/Track Review Find Your Wings
by Jim Trageser
Published: November 5, 2016
Read "Atmosphères" CD/LP/Track Review Atmosphères
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 2, 2016
Read "Six Easy Pieces" CD/LP/Track Review Six Easy Pieces
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 5, 2017
Read "O Horizonte" CD/LP/Track Review O Horizonte
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 8, 2016

Sponsor: JANA PROJECT | LEARN MORE  

Support our sponsor

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.