Support All About Jazz

All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Pay $20 and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page, plus this box and the slideout box on the right for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help
158

Mark Sherman: Spiral Staircase/High Rollin'

Joel Roberts By

Sign in to view read count
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/

Shop

Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
L. A. Sessions
L. A. Sessions
Miles High Records
2012
buy
Live at the Bird's Eye
Live at the Bird's Eye
Miles High Records
2008
buy
Family First
Family First
City Hall Records
2008
buy
Family First
Family First
City Hall Records
2007
buy
One Step Closer
One Step Closer
CAP
2005
buy
The Motive Series
The Motive Series
CAP
2005
buy
Dave Brubeck Dave Brubeck
piano
Benny Golson Benny Golson
sax, tenor
Jimmy Bruno Jimmy Bruno
guitar
Frank Macchia Frank Macchia
composer/conductor
Ray Brown Ray Brown
bass, acoustic
Shelly Manne Shelly Manne
drums
Ari Hoenig Ari Hoenig
drums
Jason Moran Jason Moran
piano
Woody Allen Woody Allen
clarinet
Ralph Towner Ralph Towner
guitar

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

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