Vibist Mark Sherman New Release Party

Mark Sherman Quintet celebrates new CD One Step Closer on Saturday, December 3 at Chris' Jazz Caf, Philadelphia. His Quintet is: Joe Magnarelli on trumpet, Allen Farnham on piano, Dean Johnson on bass, and Tim Horner on drums. Sherman is one of those rare vibes players in jazz whose virtuosity at wielding mallets is matched by a deep passion or lyricism. One Step Closer (September 6, Miles High Productions released by CAP Records) refreshes listeners with Sherman's stirring, personalized jazz language, the stunning tenor saxophone playing of guest Joe Lovano, and the expert support of Sherman's working band. Sherman and his colleagues give their post-bop a visceral shimmer.

Highlights of the new CD include the briskly moving opener “Modal Blues, ” penned by the Bronx-born bandleader, the beauty of Sherman and Magnarelli sharing the melody of “Little Lullaby, ” the re-harmonization of age-old “Moon River, ” Sherman's impressive playing on “Spiritual Exercise” to the sensitive, hugely engaging ballad “Hope, ” and the harmonic ingenuity of “Long Trip Home, ” which showcases the depth of Sherman's understanding of arranging and orchestration.

Mark Sherman's standing as one of the most accomplished, and emotionally persuasive players of jazz vibes today is the result of a long musical journey. He played classical piano as a youngster and acquired a fondness for Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, and Elvin Jones as a teenage jazz drummer, then solidified his interest in music with studies of percussion at Juilliard, where he befriended and performed with trumpeter Wynton Marsalis.

Sherman launched his jazz career as a jazz vibraphonist for the acclaimed singing duo Jackie and Roy. Next up was a six-year stay in the incomparable vocalist Peggy Lee's band, where he held his own alongside drummer Grady Tate and other jazz notables. CBS Records released Sherman's A New Balance CD in 1986. (His first solo effort, Fulcrum Point, had appeared, with far less fanfare, six years earlier.)

Sherman's phone was busy with calls for record dates and / or tours throughout the '90s into the present decade. Also an excellent pianist, he served guitarist Larry Coryell well for five years in the capacities of record producer, songwriter, and band member playing piano and vibes, and he accompanied jazz-blues singer Ruth Brown for about five years, contributing mightily to her acclaimed The Songs of My Life album in 1994. Plus, Sherman kept busy in jazz and pop with, among others, Rodney Jones, Mel Torme, Jon Hendricks, Tony Bennett, Maureen McGovern, Liza Minelli, Joe Beck, Kenny Kirkland, Gloria Lynne, Ann Hampton Callaway, and Ronnie Jordan.

Since the late-'90s, Sherman has been making feature albums on his own label, Miles High Productions. Savvy jazz fans sat up straight and took notice of his increasingly poignant playing of vibes and keyboards on 1997's Spiral Staircase, in the company of guitarist Rodney Jones, bassist Lonnie Plaxico and drummer Eric Harland; on 1998's quartet effort High Rollin'; and on a 1999 collaboration with Tim Hegerty called Daylight Calling. In 2004, Sherman's album The Motive Series, with guest sax master Michael Becker and band mates Farnham, Horner and bassist Phil Palombi, was warmly received by the media and listening public.

In addition to being a first-class musician and composer, Sherman is widely known as a jazz educator. He's drawn praise from Larry Coryell and Rodney Jones, to name just two well-respected musicians alert to jazz education, and he's been hailed by such prominent music instructors as Paul Hostetter at Julliard and Kenwood Dennard at Berklee. His master classes have been used at Juilliard, at the Peabody Conservatory, and at many university and high school music departments around the country.

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