Once again as we did last year we played a benefit concert for La Guardia High School Of the Performing Arts in NYC of which I am a graduate. It is always a gunplay and hang as we all grew up together in New York City in the 70’s and now all these guys are top shelf musicians in their fields. We honored Gabriel Kosakoff this year, and last year we honored Justin DiCiccio. One of my first teachers. Many friends and colleagues like Arturo O’Farrill, Carlo De Rosa, Bob Franceschini, Marcus Miller, Ben Perowsky, Carolyn Leonhart, Eric Macpherson, Bryan Carrot, Chris Rogers, Justin DiCiccio, Jon Gordon, Clifton Anderson, Jeremy Manasia, and Buddy Williams.

Image

ImageImage

Image

 

Image

Image

 

It was truly a privilege to play the music in a duo format with the genius of Kenny Barron. A pianist I have looked up to for my entire life while on this quest to master the poetic language of jazz. Kenny was the pianist who forged into the post bop era with a vengeance, and I recall transcribing his solos as young as 17 with my buddy Kenny Kirkland while entering college. I have never been more comfortable than to run through 4 sets in 2 nights of standards and a few originals. Kenny Barron is a true master. It was like going to school!

Image

Image

Image

I have had Miles High Records for over 10 years and have released 26 CD’s on the label. I have learned quite a lot about the record business and how and what needs be done to give an independent artist maximum exposure. My friend and colleague of many years Tim Hegarty asked me to produce and release a project for him. I hired the best and most swinging  rhythm section i could find in Kenny Barron, Rufus Reid, and Carl Allen. I joined the band for 5 cuts on vibes. The selection of tunes for this project was vital. I needed to have tunes that would clearly establish the credibility factor for Tim Hegarty. Tim is a fine player that many do not know. When you establish credibility in jazz you must address the tradition of the music. Tim’s concept for the CD was a tribute to his teachers he studied with as well as the teachers we all study. Music chosen was written by some of the key saxophone and jazz masters. George Coleman, Jimmy Heath, Frank Foster, Monk, and Joe Henderson. Not hard to find great tunes that those guys wrote. Anyway it was a very inspiring session and following the session on the 1 hour ride home I began listening to the reference mixes from the days work. I was so inspired from playing all day with Kenny Barron that I arrived home at 11pm and began to transcribe his 2 choruses on the tune entitled “New Picture”. I just had to learn this solo. And as a result of my transcription Down Beat magazine has agreed to print the transcription in the their Oct 2014 issue in their “Woodshed section in the back of the magazine. I highly advise everyone to pick this CD up. Tim Hegarty “TRIBUTE”. It swings really deeply from the first downbeat!! www.mileshighrecords.com

ImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Wow, it is sure amazing how one can slip off the course of action. My original plan with this blog was to blog everything cool in the way of gigs or general life situations and issues that might be interesting to others. It feels like I fell off the train in the last year. I have been so darn busy I could not keep up with the blogging pace. I guess that is why artists hire internet promotion people. Anyway this blog will serve as a long catch up blog.

I suppose the first place to start is a new project that sort of just fell into place with my colleagues of nearly 40 years, Bob Franceschini. For those of you who don’t know Bob, he is one of the premier saxophonists on the scene. Much known for his work with Mike Stern, The Yellowjackets, Victor Wooton, Omar Hakim, and countless other greats.

Bob and I headed a band in Europe for a few weeks around 2 years ago with Lenny White on drums, and Martin Gjakonovski on bass. The tour was successful , and immediately another was planned. This time with Adam Nussbaum on drums for scheduling availability reasons. This tour the music surely took off to another place. At the end of the 10 gig tour we recorded in Teramo Italy. So we had a release of “Project THEM” a recording of the music we groomed on the tours. That band continues to tour a bit, and we are thinking about another CD project for the band. Tour #2 with Project THEM did a lot in Switzerland with the great pItalian pianist Antonio Faroa. Antonio is a fine musician and has the post bop McCoy/ Kenny Kirkland/ Joey Calderazzo language and style down. He plays his ass off.. I very much enjoy Antonio’s playing. Fantastic gigs in Basel and Lausanne CH.

IMG_2723 IMG_2721 IMG_2720 IMG_2719 IMG_2718 IMG_2717 IMG_2706 IMG_2705 IMG_2704 IMG_2658 IMG_2657 IMG_2654 IMG_2649 IMG_2647 IMG_2646 1426469_10201410564760306_1668930100_n

Short after the Project THEM Europe tour above I went to Israel for a week to perform with Russian/Israeli trumpeter Gregory Rivkin. We played a bunch of concerts and I planted seeds for a yearly residency in Israel. I will return there in late November 2014 to begin that teaching residency. Israel is a very beautiful place.

IMG_2825 IMG_2826 IMG_2827 IMG_2829 IMG_2830 IMG_2831 IMG_2832 IMG_2833 IMG_2834 IMG_2835 IMG_2836 IMG_2837 IMG_2838 IMG_2839 IMG_2840 IMG_2841 IMG_2842 IMG_2843 IMG_2844 IMG_2845 IMG_2846 IMG_2847 IMG_2848 IMG_2849 IMG_2850

After returning from Israel I returned to my teaching schedule at Juilliard , NJCU, New York Jazz Workshop, and privately. Sometimes I feel like a teaching machine. I do enjoy it though. It is a pleasure to share my system and experience as a musician with the younger and older generation. There is always something to learn. I am forever learning. Here is my office and shed.

IMG_2985 IMG_2987

Lotta work goes on in here where I practice , transcribe, read, learn, manage Miles High Records etc. and my life!!

More posts coming. I am catching up!

 

 

          As I look back at my life and career in music I often site many of the landmark opportunities, concerts, shows, workshops, residencies, and positions that have brought me to where I am today as globally performing jazz artist and educator. So when I ponder all this I realize, and must give huge credit to my opera singing mother, and Juilliard graduate (Edith Gordon) who pushed me to go to Juilliard which paid great dividends for me. I was already playing jazz drums with many great young players like Kenny Kirkland and Rodney Jones by 17 years old, but going to the Juilliard School was the biggest and most important part of my development. Rubbing shoulders with the best classical orchestral players in the world created roundness in my musicianship and experience. My mother insisted I go to Juilliard when accepted. I did not really know the value. I just wanted to play jazz.

And Juilliard had no jazz department, and this was strange to me as many other schools did. So I entered The Juilliard School in 1975 and began studying as a percussion major with the greatest timpanist in the world named Saul Goodman. This guy was nearly 50 years the timpanist in the New York Philharmonic, and head of the percussion program at Juilliard. I began rubbing shoulders with these incredible musicians and conductors like Leonard Bernstein, Sir George, Solti, and Herbert Von Karajan. Weekly a different conductor would come and conduct the Juilliard Orchestra in addition to the main conductor Sixten Ehrling. In this period the school president and Dean were Peter Mennin, and Gideon Waldrop, and the school was run very well except for one problem. NO JAZZ!! There was no jazz program at all. In fact the genre was rather frowned upon. The only jazz players at Juilliard when I was there were Wynton Marsalis, Dan Block, Ken Hitchcock, another percussionist Rob Waring, and myself. We played as much as we could anyway, but it was not what it is today.

About 4 years ago I joined the faculty of The Juilliard Jazz program under direction of the legendary drummer/educator  Carl Allen and administrative director Dr. Laurie Carter. I remember when I first arrived how blown away I was by the fact that they finally had a jazz program to develop great young players. I am so impressed with what president Dr. Joseph Polisi has done at Juilliard. Obviously he has great vision, and understanding of all the music. For so many years the jazz door was closed at Juilliard. Even with passed students like Keith Jarrett, and Miles Davis they never opened the door to jazz education until Dr. Polisi’s incredible vision. As it stands now Juilliard accepts only 40 students at a time in the program, but these students are the absolute cream of the crop of young talent in jazz. The level is higher than any I have seen. The students get to perform with many of their heroes in the music like Herbie Hancock, George Coleman, Hubert Laws at the many concerts at school. The faculty including legends like Sir Ron Carter, Kenny Barron, (artist in resident) Benny Golson and Christian Macbride and the rest of the incredible player/educators who teach at there. Additionally the name value throughout the globe makes this program the most valuable in the world. I travel all over the world, and it seems one of the most impressive things for people is the Juilliard name, and the fact that I played with these conductors I named. When you mention that Juilliard name, eyes light up.

The foresight to actually send students out on tour for a week at a time, and to have the students working the summer Juilliard jazz camps creates invaluable experience for these young players. SOmething virtually no other institution does. This is the type of experience I never got until I hit road with Peggy Lee Quintet and the many other jazz luminaries I have worked with over the years. Especially in the educational area, Juilliard really cultivates the students by allowing them to do workshops in the Juilliard School name. Gaining experience teaching, as well as communicating in foreign countries with language barriers, and cultural barriers. Learning to deal with promoters, and local educators in foreign countries is a social art in itself. Congratulations to Dr. Joseph Polisi, Dr. Laurie Carter, and Carl Allen for their free thinking and incredible as I have said “vision” to create this monster program for aspiring jazz players. It is an honor and privilege to be part of this. I highly recommend any aspiring  young  jazz players of level to apply to The Juilliard School. The greatest music school in the world!

Saul Goodman IMG_1248

Saul Goodman                                                                Carl Allen

On The Queen Mary ll with James Burton Jr, Xavier Davis, Jason Stewart, and myself.

Sorry I have not blogged in a while, as I sort of got loaded down with the summer activities. Basically I was 3 times to Europe for concerts since the last tour with Lenny White and Bob Franceschini.

From June 18-22 I had the privilege of teaching at The Juilliard summer jazz camp in Atlanta. I was selected to substitute for Carl Allen teaching drums at the camp, and of course playing on the final concert with the faculty. Many of you don’t know this , but I play a lot of drums as I studied with Elvin Jones as a youngster, and was and still am into Philly Joe Jones, Max Roach, Roy Haynes and all the there great jazz master drummers. So teaching and playing in Atlanta brought back many memories of playing with Kenny Kirkland and Rodney Jones when growing up. The camp was great as we taught many talented aspiring high school jazz players. On Friday night final day of camp the students performed in their combos, and the faculty band performed. What treat to play a concert with Ben Wolfe on bass, Frank Kimbrough, Miles Ozaki, Joe Magnarelli, Marc Vinci, and James Burton jr. I had a wonderful time. One of the highlights of the camp as well for me was Joe Magnarelli and I plunge for 45 minutes everyday during a free period we had. What ball jamming with Mags, trumpet and drums. It was wide open and free and left me with that great feeling of freedom in the music.

I returned to New York on June 23rd and had 4 days home before I departed for Europe. I flew to Napoli and spent 4 5 days there playing festivals. One of the festivals I did was the Marigliano Jazz Festival near Napoli Italy. I did several events at that festival. I played one night with the Craig Hartley Trio with Craig on piano, Carlo De Rosa on bass, and Curtis Florian on drums. A great trio. I had a great playing with these cats. They swing their asses off. Next day I rehearsed with the Antonio Ciacca Big Band, and then did my 2-hour workshop on “Language Skills Fro Jazz Improvisation”. The next night I performed as a guest artist with that big band for the final concert of the festival.

Next day I flew back to New York. It was good to get back to NYC as I had a few gigs and spent 3 weeks with my family, which was great. One of the gigs in New York was a tribute to Bobby Hutcherson at Birdland NYC. This event was sponsored by WBGO and I played with George Cables, Buster Williams, and Victor Lewis. Accompanied by 3 other vibes players Steve Nelson, Warren Wolfe, and Jay Hoggard. We played all Bobby Hutcherson tunes. It was a great night with an all star rhythm section. Then on August 3rd I departed on another Juilliard School event. I performed on the Queen Mary ll cruise ship for a week as it gave me a trans-Atlantic ride to Europe which was my destination for some more jazz festivals.

On the cruise I had a great time playing drums and vibes with James Burton Jr., Xavier Davis, and Jason Stewart. On this setting I did a really interesting thing that I really have never done before. I played drums and vibes. So I would start every tune on drums and when the bass player was soloing I would fade away from the drums and move to the vibes and then take a solo with piano and bass only for a while. Then when finished I would subtly move back tot the drums and finish out the tune. The crowds loved it, and it was a new experience for me as well. Usually it is one or the other. Not both.

After arriving in Southampton the car transported us all to Heathrow airport in London and everyone went their own ways. I went on to Italy where I had a few gigs. One of them was the Isbani Jazz Festival near Salerno. It was a great night of music and I sold lots of CD’s.

Anyway after a few hits in Italy I returned home. Easier said than done as the car my manager sent for me to drive the 2.5 hour drive to Rome was 4o minutes late and then when we finally got on the road we had a flat tire that the driver could not change, and I subsequently missed my flight from Rom-London where I needed to catch my return flight that the Queen Mary 2 had provided. Anyway it cost my manager 434 euro to get me on the last flight out of Pescara Airport, which was 30 km from where the car broke down. Pretty much one of those act of god nightmares we all go through sometimes. Either way I arrived safely home after many hours traveling, but really exhausted. I am off the planes until my California tour and residency on Oct 4th, and then off to Europe again in November with my new band with Bob Franceschini, and Adam Nussbaum called. (THEM)

All in all a great summer with great music. For now it is back to Juilliard Jazz and my other teaching gigs at New Jersey City University and The New York Jazz Workshop.

Played drums and vibes on the QE ll. WHat a ball!

James Burton Jr, Jason Stewart, Xavier Davis, mark Sherman on the Queen Mary ll

Bobby Huterson Tribute at Birdland in NYC with George Cables, Buster Williams, Victor Lewis, and 3 other vibes players. Warren Wolfe, Steve Nelson, and Joy Hoggard.

Marigliano Jazz Festival Napoli italy

 

 

Isbani Jazz festival view

Isbani Jazz Festival

MONDAY MAY 7  THE NEW YORK JAZZ WORKSHOP BEBOP/POST BOP COMBO BLOG MARK SHERMAN

I was the drummer for combo yesterday, but of course it does not hold the combo back as I love to play, and can control any situation from that vantage point. Having grown up studying with Elvin and playing a lot I can really give the combo the feel it needs, and spread the depth of the rhythmic structure of the music itself. Much of my concept on piano and vibes has arrived as a result of my rhythmic concept, which I got, from playing the drums.

We had Vinnie on bass, a newcomer who played very well, and our other normal diligent players. Dave, Rob, and Matt. We ran through Birdlike (Freddie Hubbard), Black Nile (Wayne Shorter), Beatrice (Sam Rivers), After You’ve Gone, and we attempted to play T Monk’s Pannonica. A difficult set of changes to master. After we played Black Nile the second tune we played, I stopped the band and began to talk about anticipation, and the technique of thinking ahead of the changes, and actually playing ahead in order to command the direction of the line. I demonstrated how being ahead of the changes is always best, and that falling behind is a terrible place to be. Trying to catch the train as it sails by. I demonstrated this a bit at the piano, and then instructed each player to take more choruses of soloing on Black Nile, but this time to play 1-2 quarter notes ahead of the changes. Well I never heard Matt Mayer sound so good. He was jumping ahead and resolving in a way that he never did before. This technique is a vital part of improvisation. Especially when dealing with lots of changes at fast tempos. Playing ahead of where the music actually is in real time is a very effective, and sensible way to be in control of the music and not to get caught by the changes. It has always worked for me, and it was a thrill to hear it change Matt and the others approach on negotiating the changes on the tunes. That anticipation drill helps you lead the direction of the music. After all the music will not stop, so it is easier to be ahead of the game, and use silence or resolution to allow the music to catch you, than for you to be behind the changes, trying to run after the music while negotiating the harmony. Sort of like being ahead of the ball game in the ninth inning, rather than playing catch up ball!!!

Deep stuff really if jazz improvisation is your life as it is mine!!!


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 364 other followers