Jazz in Russia


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!!!


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The Quartet

The Quartet

It’s been two weeks since my return to the US from the month long Rhythm Road/US State Department tour of Russia, and Asia. It has been quite an emotional adjustment since on the  tour we were treated as if we were diplomats from the United States. Driving in embassy limos. Being wined and dined constantly, and of course the 50-100 people who mobbed us after concerts and master classes to get a picture or an autograph, or to just talk about music. Most importantly I miss the day to day music. We played over 30 events, Everyday was another bit of magic from the music. We drove the music to higher levels. That is what happens when you do many consecutive events. My dream since I was 13 years old has been to do just that. Back in New York it has been a small adjustment from playing concerts, and master classes daily, to more occasional opportunities to do this. I miss the daily hang with the band as well. We all bonded like family. I am looking forward to Europe upcoming in the fall, Australia in the spring, and back to teaching in the university, and conservatory I work in. Hats off to the band of Tim Horner, Jim Ridl, and Tom Dicarlo for the completion of that month in Asia. We all worked our butts off, but the music made it all worth while.

Tim in Europe

Tim in Europe

Tim Horner Korea

Tim Horner Korea

With all the blogging I have been doing about concerts and various other subjects I thought perhaps now would be a good time to talk out a friend, and musician who has certainly changed my life. That is Tim Horner. drummer, composer, educator, violist, a spiritual motivator, a gentle loving person, and one of my best friends. Maybe 20 plus years ago I met Tim while I was sitting in on a Joe Locke gig that Tim was playing. Joe invited me up to play a tune at the old Village Gate on Bleecker Street in New York City. I had heard Tim play a few times, but never had played with him. The next time I played with Tim was in 2002, when I started a new band after maybe a five-year lapse in my recording career. I had met Allen Farnham the great jazz pianist, and educator on a Liza Minelli tour, and we decided to get together when we returned to New York to run through some new compositions I had recently written. From that get together I formed a band for the recording “The Motive Series” with the late Michael Brecker as a guest artist. I called Tim, and asked him if he’d like to do it with Allen Farnham, Phil Palombi, and myself. Tim agreed, and that began a relationship that has truly altered my life in a really positive way. The record did well, and I was grateful of course to have Michael Brecker on it as he just burned up the two tunes he played on. Since then with a change in the bass slot to Dean Johnson, the band has made four memorable recordings, and been on five European tours as well as recorded a live DVD. These recordings have launched my solo career to place it has never been. I have been able to really get my name out there better than ever before. I owe it all to that band, but Tim and I have now gone off to co lead a band that is currently on a Russia/Asia tour for 4 weeks. It is the longest tour we have ever done together. Tim and I have become one on the stage. I play to my highest level with him as he encapsulates the essence of what jazz drumming has evolved to today. He has a true knowledge of music in every way. As a fine violist, Tim understands melody, and harmony quite well. Better than any drummer I have ever come across, and I have played with many of the finest in the world. He is ever supportive of the music, and lives the music with each and every note he plays. His groove is super deep, and his technique allows him to capture the feeling of all the greatest jazz drummers who ever lived. Players like Max Roach, Philly Joe Jones, Elvin Jones, Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, and Jack Dejohnette. Tim sounds like all of them, and most of all like himself. Some nights I look over to him in the midst of a performance, and I realize I am playing with one of the world’s greatest musicians. All the master drummers I have just mentioned cannot be mentioned without including Tim Horner. Actually he has something over all of them. He is a fine composer. He has written several songs for this tour that have really proved this to me. His tune “Museum Piece”, that he wrote while looking at a painting in a New York museum for three hours one day, captures everything music is about for me. A gorgeous melody, with deep harmony, and a deeply rooted concept. With an opening statement of the melody with just solo piano with the pedal down, begins this composition setting a mood, which is truly mesmerizing for me as a player. Every night I close my eyes as if in a chant, and reach deep in my heart for a heart wrenching performance of this piece. Then I state the melody as the rhythm section follows me into the highest level of spirituality in music I have ever reached. Then trading complete choruses nightly with Jim Ridl on piano raises my spirit every performance. We step the ladder with each chorus increasing in intensity as Tim builds and builds the feeling underneath us as we reach for uncharted territory nightly. This piece is simply why I live to play this music. I see god every time we perform it. Tim and I have stuck together with the music for 7-8 years now, and it has changed my life for the better. Of course with all this closeness in the music Tim Horner and I have become the closest of friends, and colleagues. The world should know Tim Horner is one of the finest all around musicians in the world. Bravo Tim, and thanks for the music. I will love you forever for the positive effect you have had on my life!

Check Tim’s web site for more biographical information! www.timhornermusic.com

Tim in Europe

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An educator

An educator

Tim Horner Korea

Tim Horner Korea

The Mark Sherman/Tim Horner Quartet in Russia

The Mark Sherman/Tim Horner Quartet in Russia

Our final concert last night in Vladivostok was just incredible. The band is really playing itself at this point. The concert took place at the Philharmonic Hall in Vladivostok to a sold out standing room only crowd that was over appreciative. We opened the second half of the show with 2 of my tunes entitled “The Winning Life”, and “The Great Triplet“. After that we went into one of TIm Horner‘s new compositions entitled “Museum Piece” which is just a gorgeous piece of music with a free rubato melody with really great chord changes.We took 3 choruses each and then went directly into another Tim Horner composition titled “Passion Dancer”, in which Tim played the Cajon which is basically a box that has various sounds and you sit on top of it and groove away. Tim played the hell out of it, and we found a home inside this tune. It was a premiere for this composition, and it came off beautifully. After that we closed with Jim Ridl’s “Smile Said The Drum” dedicated to Elvin Jones for the never-ending grin Elvin carried on his face when playing. The sound on stage was fantastic last night in this hall, and Jim Ridl had a nice 9-foot Steinway to play. The band really reached new territory last night, and gave a really inspired performance. We are really playing well together. Afterwards there was a standing ovation for us and we received a huge bouquet of white roses, which we gave to our host Euzhenia from the consulate in Vladivostok who took really good care of us our entire stay. Then there was a reception, and when we entered the room there were about 50 people waiting for us with hugs and huge round of applause. Many pictures were taken. Everyone wanted a picture with us. We drank lots of champagne, and ate some food, and we received a beautiful plaque and some written awards from the consulate General Tom Armbruster. The whole night was really gratifying. This morning the embassy picked us up at the hotel and we went to a final lunch, and then to the airport for our flight to Seoul Korea where I am writing from now. The Hyatt Regency in Incheon. A beautiful hotel. Our new host from South Korea’s embassy took us out for the food we have been talking out for over a month now. Kam Chi and Korean Barbecue. I am seriously stuffed. A good night sleep will help. Tomorrow we have a master class in the afternoon at the conservatory in Seoul and a concert at night.

A full house at the Marine club in Nahodka Russia last night inspired a kick-ass performance by the quartet. The music was intense, emotional, and flat out burning. The crowd was really responsive and gracious. It is the reason I do this. The feeling of a crowd that loves you is the greatest feeling one can have after 35 years of commitment the art of improvisation. We played 7 tunes and then a beautiful encore to a standing ovation. Four huge bouquets of flowers were brought up to the stage for the quartet when we were taking our bows. We gave the flowers to our host Evghenia who has been treating us beautifully for the entire trip. It was all worth the 3.5 hour drive to Nahodka from Vladivostok and back. The people are very warm and seem to be so happy we are here bringing our music.

Tomorrow we play our final concert in Russia at the large philharmonic hall here. I expect it to be a highly emotional performance as always for all of us musicians. Personally I have had a great time here in Russia, although I am happy I live in the US, as life seems more difficult for the people over here.

The 4tet did a nice mini concert (3-4 tunes) and a master class at the philharmonic hall in Vladivostok Russia yesterday. There were 80-100 eager music students and enthusiasts there to watch us along with 2 or 3 TV cameras filming it for the news as on Sunday night we have a big concert in the same hall that will surely be packed. Everything went well as we opened up by playing 3 tunes. One of mine entitled “Little Lullaby”, which started as a slow sensitive waltz that I composed when my little girl Ella was an infant and we routinely rocked her in her rocking chair. This piece over the last 7 years with the 4tet has evolved into a hard driving waltz that is surely not a lullaby anymore, but a nice vehicle for our art form of improvisation. Then we played a beautiful ballad by Tim Horner who always has had my ultimate respect as a musician, drummer, and violist, but until this past 6 months I had know idea that he was a great writer as well. This ballad is an absolutely beautiful piece entitled “The Museum Piece” that he wrote while sitting staring at art at the museum in New York City with his wife Nitza, a fantastically talented sculptor and artist from Israel. Anyone who cannot get motivated by this piece is DEAD! It captures what I personally live for in the music. The use of beautiful melody, chords and a free approach to rhythm and form that reminds me why I play this music. It is a very emotional piece that has really gotten under my skin. Can’t wait to play it tonight at our concert in Nakhodka Russia. After that we played one of Jim Ridl’s compositions entitled “Smile Said The Drum” which is dedicated to Elvin Jones one of my teachers and heroes in the music. The title refers to Elvin’s infectious smile that was on his face all the time. Jim Ridl is absolutely one of the finest writers I have worked with in my life, and it is a total privilege to address all the music he has brought forth in this 4tet. His music has emotion, direction, deep harmony, and is flat out challenging and fun to play. Our bassist Tom Dicarlo is the youngest in the group, but addresses the music like a seasoned veteran. His sound is warm, and his intonation is note perfect. He locks up with Tim Horner underneath Jim Ridl, and myself to create the magic, and rhythmic current that flows through the music direct into my heart.

After the 3 opening tunes we opened up for questions with a translator of course. After many questions about the technical aspects of the vibraphone, someone asked if I ever play solo on the vibes. So I knocked out a quick solo version of “Stella By Starlight”. More questions continued and then we spoke about the musical handouts we prepared, and of course they were given out to each person who attended. Lots of handshakes, and autographs were signed, and some CD’s given out as well. All in all a great musical start to this month long tour. In our briefing with Jazz At Lincoln Center, and The US State Department prior to our departure they told us “get ready to be treated like rock stars”. Well they were correct. That is exactly how we have been treated. It was all filmed by a TV crew and was on the news several times last night and this morning. We are all having a blast! Today a 3-hour drive to Nakhodka, and a concert tonight. Can’t wait to play again. This band is on fire already, and we just began the tour!

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