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Thursday, September 19, 2019

CD Review: Mark Sherman - My Other Voice.

Mark Sherman (piano); Vincent Herring(alto saxophone); Ray Drummond/Dan Chmielinski (bass); Nana Sakamoto (trombone); Carl Allen (drums).
(Review by James H)

Mark Sherman is best known as a percussionist and vibraphone player, having played vibes as a sideman to Peggy Lee and other big jazz names of the late 20th century, as well as classical percussion in orchestras conducted by Bernstein, Solti and the like.  He describes piano as “his other voice” hence the title of this new CD.  Piano may be Sherman’s other voice, but it is a bold and articulate voice in this eclectic collection of jazz standards, less well known tunes and his own compositions.   Mark teaches at The Juilliard School in New York and, on this album, he works with other established players on the New York scene as well as newcomers Nana Sakamoto on trombone and bassist Dan Chmielinski.

The album tends towards a hard bop feel, but also has its tender moments. The playing is tight and exciting, beginning with Sherman’s own composition Primative Reality, where Sherman’s piano has a driving McCoy Tyner-like quality, presaging confident solos by Herring and Sakamoto.  

Horace Silver’s Juicy Lucy follows, with a nice bluesy solo by Vincent Herring.  In John Lewis’ Milestones Sherman manages a Modern Jazz Quartet feel, and Nana Sakamoto’s excellent solo catches the spirit of the piece.  

Ale, a Mark Sherman tune, is hoppy and zesty with a nice head, just like good beer should be, helped down by interesting bass playing by Chmielinski.   The mood quietens down in Ev’rytime we Say Goodbye, the Cole Porter standard, in which the horns sit out and the trio (this time with Ray Drummond on bass) renders a tender ballad.  The driving feel returns with Cedar Walton’s Hindsight, and Sherman and Sakamoto’s solos keep the mood going.  

In Devotion’s Dance, another Sherman tune, we have an edgy, jerky waltz-like feel, with more talented bass playing by Chmielinski.   The disc finishes with The Cup Bearers, an old hard bop tune from the 1960s, with spirited solos from Herring and Sakamoto.

My Other Voice is an exciting and well crafted album, with tight ensemble playing and some inspired solo playing.   Of particular note is Nana Sakamoto’s fine, accurate trombone playing.  Sakamoto, only 24 years of age and recently arrived from Japan, is a newcomer to the New York scene and has a promising career ahead of her.

This CD grew on me over a few listenings.  It is an intelligent and well put together disc, which pays homage to hard bop and takes it to new places.  Piano may be Mark Sherman’s other voice, but it is a confident voice, which doesn’t disappoint.   
James H

Available on Miles High Records via usual suspects.

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