Jazz Saxophone


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!!!


Advertisements
With Herbie Hancock

With Herbie Hancock

With Benny Golson

With Benny Golson

With Carl Allen

With Carl Allen

With Lenny White

With Lenny White

I am so proud to be a graduate, and on the faculty of The Juilliard School. Last night at school there was an incredible evening of celebration for Ron Carter as he has turned 75 years old, and a new Juilliard scholarship was launched in his honor. Fifty thousand dollars awarded yearly to a deserving student in the program. With Danny Glover as the MC for the evening, the program  packed Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. Just a great presentation of  many of Ron’s tunes arranged by the students, and performed with the guest jazz masters. There were also performances by the Ron Carter nonet, and the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra performing selections from Ron’s big band recording. A who’s who of jazz history was there to support this event. It was a ball to hang with many of my colleagues from the faculty, as well as the legendary guests that performed with the students on the concert. What a great opportunity for the Juilliard jazz students to play with, Hubert Laws, Benny Golson, Herbie Hancock, Buster Williams, Russell Malone, Ron Carter, Carl Allen, and Lewis Nash.

When I was at Juilliard I was playing in the orchestra with the likes of Sexton Ehrling, James Conlon, Zubin Mehta, George Solti, Leonard Bernstein and others. They had no jazz program at Juilliard when I attended. Wynton Marsalis and I used to just jammed in the hallways to find somewhere to play. What a program. What a night. Just amazing!

Mark Sherman Quintet with Jerry Bergonzi @ The Kitano Jazz NYC

What an inspiring weekend of music at The Kitano jazz room in NYC with my band of 8 years with Tim Horner, Allen Farnham, and Dean Johnson. Jerry Bergonzi was a guest with us this weekend. In addition Jerry stayed at my house for the weekend so we played a lot of music at home, and at the club at night. He is flat out an incredible musician, and certainly one of the top 5 saxophone geniuses alive today. His playing is so fluid, and his language is so deeply rooted. It was a truly motivating to play and hang with him for 3 days. In addition he is just a great cat full of love, and music. Many colleagues, and friends came out to see us, as we tore up tunes like Quasimodo, Hot House, and many originals, and re-harmonized standards. It was a fantastic weekend.

What a great 2 days I spent with Paquito D’Rivera and an amazing group of musicians. We recorded a piece he wrote by commission for the Jose Limon Dance Company. The work is titled “Ladies in White” (Ballet) for chamber jazz ensemble. With pianist/producer Daniel Freiberg in the control room, the band was Paquito of course, Alex Brown on piano, Marco Granados on flute, Diego Urcola, on trombone and euphonium, Jisoo OK on cello, Gregg August on bass,  Eric Doob on drums/percussion, Arturo Stable, and Paulo Stagnaro on hand percussion, and myself Mark Sherman on a concert marimba.

Let me start out by saying, Paquito D’Rivera is absolutely one of the finest musicians on this planet. I know he was a child prodigy saxophonist, and clarinetist. I believe he played a concerto with the main symphony in Cuba at 11 years old, and of course today he is known for his deeply rooted jazz playing. His cross of Latin flavored music with the bebop, and classical roots has made him tops in his field. The music he composed for the ballet is in 3 movements, and will eventually be performed live with the ballet. Hopefully many times.

I have done many recording dates in my life, but this one was absolutely one of the most challenging dates I’ve ever done. The music was extremely challenging. It required a lot of attention from all the musicians including Paquito himself. I know I practiced many of the lines and various marimba parts for many hours just to work out stickings, and just get it in my head and hands. Same I am sure for all the players. I was most impressed by many of the other musicians some who I had worked with before, and some not.

Marco Granados is a flautist I have never heard, but wow he sounded beautiful, as we doubled many melodies together. He was very precise with great intonation. The high end of the marimba with flute doubling is a great sound.

Alex Brown is a pianist to be heard more of. He plays his butt off. Not only did he execute the parts beautifully as a classical pianist, but also his solos were really great jazz solos. He has a bit of a Lyle Mays feeling at times, but again deeply rooted in the jazz tradition, with great command of the language, and he played the Latin grooves really well. A pianist I would call anytime!

Gregg August is a bassist that I had worked with in the past, but I really got to hear him play at a higher level on this session. His intonation is beautiful, he plays Arco (with the bow) really well, his groove is strong, and of course he reads well in order to play this piece in the first place. Very solid with a beautiful sound.

Jisoo OK was another highlight of the date playing cello. She was much more than OK. She was amazing. An incredible body to her sound. It is rich, in tune, and passionate. She played the parts with a vengeance for the music. She had technical precision and a lot of emotion in her playing. I think she touched us all with that. The cello is such a beautiful instrument.

Diego Urcola played trombone and a baritone horn, or I think they also call it a Euphonium. What a beautiful player. He played both instruments with great skill. He blew some beautiful solos on the Euphonium that had the smoothness of a flugelhorn. His improvising skills are excellent, as he has a broad understanding of the language. I have had Joe Magnarelli playing trumpet, and flugelhorn on several of my CD’s in the past. I love that sound of flugelhorn, and vibes, and immediately upon hearing Urcola play I had the same smooth feeling except a bit lower, and deeper.

I found Eric Doob to be a very multi dimensional drummer, covering all the styles needed in this piece. He had a broad understanding of the various Latin feels, as well as could swing well.

Latin percussion, and hand percussion is an area of music that I have always faked very well on many jingles, and film dates in my life. I used one groove my whole life, and it worked for those types of music, but whenever I was asked to play a real Latin gig with authentic musicians, I always told the leaders, “please get an authentic player. I am just a jazz musician. I never really knew all the traditional types of hand drum grooves, but the two percussionists Arturo Stable and Paulo Stagnaro that Paquito hired for this recording sure did. They were grooving in their booth with an amazing array of instruments.

A group of musicians getting together to honor the code we live by, which is to take the music as serious as life itself. To come together having never really known each other at all, but all with the same goal. In this case to do justice to the incredible work of music Paquito D’Rivera composed. Every part written mattered, and had great purpose. Clearly this work was well calculated, and thought out. I really admire the work done on this project, because rather than remain in a pattern, Paquito seems to be always forging ahead looking for new things to create, and new ways to contribute to the art form.  That is something I have always tried to do in my own life, and working with masters like Paquito only sets a great example for us all. Hats off to you Pacman for this incredible contribution, and thanks so much for having me on the recording. I am very grateful to have been part of it!

Paquito D’Rivera
file://localhost/Users/marksherman/Desktop/Cadence_Sherman.pdf

The Places We Feel Free / The Tim Horner Ensemble

2011 Miles High Records  www.mileshighrecords.com

Featuring : Tim Horner – All Compositions, Drums, Percussion, Voice & Viola / Jim Ridl – Piano & Electric Piano / John Hart – Guitar / Martin Wind – Bass / Mark Sherman – Vibes / Ron Horton – Trumpet & Flugelhorn / Marc Mommaas – Tenor & Soprano Saxes / Scott Robinson – Tenor Sax

Tracks:

A Room Full of Shoes

Invisible Heroes

Museum Piece

Mountain River Dream

A Precious Soul Fanfare for the Common

Jims

‘Tis

Spirit

Tha Places We Feel Free

Passion Dancer

 

The Places We Feel Free is the debut recording of drummer Tim Horner, out of NYC. Tim is one of New York City’s finest drummers and Jazz musicians. His disc, ‘The Places We Feel Free’ displays Tim’s musicianship as muti-faceted. He is a wonderful performer, composer and ensemble musician. His compositions (like his playing) are rhythmically vibrant. The tunes are melodically sophisticated, brushed with modern 20th century harmonies. You canhear the thoughtfulness behind each composition. The result is a release that unveils modern mainstream music, performed by an experienced group of NYC veterans that will surely excite the listeners, musicians and all who appreciate modern Jazz.

Everyone who participates on this disc has shining moments. It is so nice to hear Scott Robinson on tenor. If you are not familiar with his tenor playing, he unveils a richness of tone, blended with modern, creative touches in his improvisations. On ‘Fanfare for the Common Jims’, written for Robinson, Scott just rips through the form with ease and excitement! He then turns around plays with great sensitivity on ‘Tis’. He and trumpeter, Ron Horton provide Horner with a front-line that swings, combined with oneness of ensemble. Congrads Jims!

I love vibraphonist, Mark Sherman’s contributions. He plays with a rhythmic urgency that caught my attention—as in right away on ‘The Room Full of Shoes’. The opening cut. The unison’s and trades with guitarist John Hart are melodically sparring and enjoyable to listen to. I love how the rhythm section swings so hard—it gives the soloists the cushion and the necessary creative energy to just play ripping solos! Jim Ridl (piano) swings hard on that opening track on piano as well, creating an exciting and enjoyable listen.

Ron Horton, (Trumpet and Flugelhorn), plays with a richness of ‘sound’ on this recording. He plays with a big and full ‘sound’. His ‘pitch’ and ‘time’ are very good. On a ‘Precious Soul’ and ‘Tis’, his ensemble, and inventive solo’s are a welcome addition to this music.

Guitarist, John Hart on guitar is superb throughout. His electric playing flows, and he is well versed harmonically. I might note–not all electric players can turn the corner and play convincingly on a nylon classical guitar.  His training and experience are well noted. On Horner’s, ‘Passion Dancer’, his execution of Flamenco style is fluid and musical!

The disc is also programmed very well, with an assortment of time feels and variations of ensemble. The compositions also display beautiful variation. For example, listening to ‘The Places We Feel Free’, (dedicated to bassist, Bob Bowen), (a ¾ metered tune), ‘Places’ features nice open harmonies as it features a section for bassist Martin Wind to improvise. His solo is set up nicely by guitarist, Hart and vibraphonist, Sherman as their unison melody leads to the conversation with Wind. It is beautifully done. Sherman is great once again and Tim’s cymbal work is superb!

Horner not only writes in an assortment of time feels, he plays each style with the up-most capability. He is one of our modern masters when it comes knowing what the music needs from the rhythm section. His contributions are played with passion and conviction! His time feels so good. It makes you want to play if you’re a musician. It makes you want to move if you’re a listener. He is a superb musician!

You will listen to this disc multiple times, I can promise you if you are a lover of creative mainstream Jazz. Tim’s debut is not successful on one level, but on many levels. He has waited to release a musical statement, which clearly demonstrates his great understanding of the Jazz idiom! Congrads Jims!!

Tim Horner recording date. The Band


The Orsara Jazz Festival Faculty Band

The Orsara Jazz Festival Faculty Band

I had just an amazing week in Orsara Italy from August 2-7. The faculty and band for the festival was Jerry Bergonzi, Jim Rotundi, Mark Sherman, Antonio Ciacca, Lucio Ferrara, John Webber, and Joe Farnsworth. Everyday we taught workshops, private lessons, and ran combos for 100 students at the camp. At night there were concerts, and all night jam sessions, and of course the food as usual in Italy is amazing. We ate incredible meals every night and lots of wine. I am not a huge drinker, but it is impossible to turn down. In fact if you try to say, “no thanks I don’t want any”, people look at you like your nuts. Anyway, I want to say something about each faculty musician individually.

Jerry Bergonzi is a musician, and saxophonist who I personally have looked up for many years. Especially since the death of my colleague Michael Brecker, Jerry is certainly the closest living sax player to Coltrane. Clearly he is deeply influenced by Coltrane, and of course all the great masters on his instrument. He has a deep understanding of the language, a fat fat sound on tenor sax, and the heart of giant. Deeply sensitive, and in touch with all the positive, and negative things happening in the world today. I truly enjoyed bonding with Jerry, and of course sharing the bandstand, and the music with him. He is gentle giant in the music, and his presence made it a very special week for me. It was really an honor, and I look forward to touring with him next year in a quartet setting.

Jim Rotundi is trumpet player that I certainly knew of as he has a huge reputation as a great player, but I had never really worked with him on the bandstand. It was great to meet him and play quartet with him on a separate concert in Foggia Italy sponsored by the festival. Jim is a humble, yet powerful player with incredible technique, and sound. And of course his language, and solo concept comes straight from the heart. I consider him one of the best trumpet players in the world. In addition he is a great guy, who clearly cared about the students, and bonding with all the musicians. A great guy to have on the bandstand, or on the road. Currently he is a professor of trumpet in Graz Austria, where he has relocated, and surely is bringing his genius to that program.

Antonio Ciacca is a truly fine pianist, arranger, and composer, and it was because of Antonio’s recommendation that I was chosen as a teacher, and performer at the Orsara Jazz Festival. I am quite grateful for this. Heavily influenced by all the bebop piano masters like Bud Powell, Sonny Clarke, Tommy Flanagan, Red Garland, Oscar Peterson etc. Antonio and his wife Giusy have for many years been on the forefront of the jazz world as they together have a jazz booking agency call C-Jam productions, and have promoted many huge jazz concerts, and tours with the likes of Elvin Jones and the Jazz Machine, and many others. Because of Antonio’s extensive knowledge of the music history, and business, he was chosen by Wynton Marsalis to be the director of programming for Jazz At Lincoln Center in New York City for the last 5 years. He is also on the Juilliard faculty with me, where he teaches the business of music. These days however Antonio is all about playing as he has stepped up to performing, and composing full-time. On Saturday August 6th the faculty band of the Orsara Jazz Festival played a work Antonio wrote specifically for the festival, entitled “The Orsara Suite”, in which each musician was featured in a movement. A well-calculated work with great purpose that gave each of us many solos on all the movements, but between each movement each one of us had an extended solo feature. We rehearsed it several times during the week, culminating with a kick ass performance, and recording of the Suite on the Saturday night concert on the big stage. It was mobbed with maybe 1500-2000 people as we ripped through this piece. Antonio used a composing technique that we all often apply, in which he takes well-known tunes like “Woody And You”, or “Like Sonny”, and changes the melody, and or chord changes a bit, and turns it into his own version. It is quite effective, and of course we all had a ball playing this extended suite. It has been my great pleasure to work with, and befriend Antonio since I recently met him at the beginning of last school year at The Juilliard School. He is a fine musician.

Lucio Ferrara guitarist, and director of the Orsara festival has only recently become one of my colleagues. He is a fine guitarist, influenced heavily by guitar master Wes Montgomery, and truly plays as if he loves the music deeply. On Friday night August 5th Jim Rotundi, and myself were driven about 30 minutes away from Orsara to the city of Foggia, where we played quartet with Luca Santaniello, and Joe La Piore, two fine Italian jazz players currently living in New York. Lucio played trio with Luca, and Joe before Jim, and I did our quartet segment of the evening’s festivities. I loved the deeply rooted bebop approach that Lucio takes towards the music. Much like my close friend and colleague Rodney Jones who also comes out of Wes Montgomery, and Kenny Burrell. What better place to come from as a jazz guitarist today. As a director Lucio did an incredible job managing, and administrating the day to day activities of the festival, as his cell phone never stopped ringing, as with 100 students, and the faculty he had to constantly deal with many issues that had nothing to do with playing the music, but when it was time to play Lucio really sounded great. A crisp clear sound, with great command of the jazz language.

John Webber is clearly one of the finest bass players around having performed with just about every big name in the business. I know him from his work the great tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander. I really enjoyed hanging with John as he has a great sense of humor, and many great stories of his experiences having played with Benny Golson, George Coleman, Cecil Payne, Pharaoh Sanders Jon Hendriks, and list of jazz masters that goes on and on. He plays immaculately in tune with a great feel that sends the message of authentic jazz. Flat out a fun guy to have around. His playing made me feel very comfortable which I see as the goal of any musician. When you walk into a playing situation make those around you feel comfortable. John quietly does a great job of just that.

Joe Farnsworth is a drummer deeply rooted in the tradition of jazz. As a drummer myself having studied with Elvin Jones as a youngster, I am always in touch with what the drummer along side of me is doing. If I can swing harder than the drummer on the bandstand, then it is the wrong guy. Joe is absolutely the right guy, super experienced having played with many of the same jazz masters that John Webber has played with in Eric Alexander, George Coleman, Junior Cook, Johnny Griffin, Pharaoh Sanders, and the list goes on. Actually the two of them are truly a great combination. They fit together stylistically like a glove. Joe sounds to me as if you mixed Art Blakey, Philly Joe Jones, and Elvin Jones all together. He clearly loves to play as do all of us, but when you mix the three drummers styles together that I just mentioned you get magic. Joe is an original player that creates that authentic sound of jazz. A fun guy who deeply loves the music. He is just a ball to play and hang with.

Saturday morning before the big concert I did a solo vibraphone concert in an unbelievably beautiful 1000-year-old church in Orsara. The acoustics, and the physical setting were enough to make one see god. I played solo versions of “Along Came Betty”, “My One And Only Love”, “Celia”, and one of my originals entitled “Solitude”. I felt it was a very spiritual and motivating performance for me as 50-70 people showed and listened very eagerly to what I brought musically.

I look forward to returning to the Orsara Jazz Festival and jazz camp for years to come. It was an incredibly motivating, and rewarding musical week.

Jerry Bergonzi

Jim Rotundi

Mark Sherman

Antonio Ciacca

Lucio Ferrara

John Webber

Joe Farnsworth

Jerry Bergonzi and Mark Sherman