Studio Music

The Quartet

Well we set off on tour for our first stop in Oldenburg Germany to perform at Jazz Club Alluvium on Feb 23rd. A nice venue run by a singer named Al Yasha Anderson. She is originally from Brooklyn New York, and now residing in Oldenburg. The concert was a nice start to our 6 concerts in Germany, and Switzerland. We are preparing new music for a recording in Switzerland on February 26+27 live at Chorus Jazz Club. We have been playing all new music by Tim Horner, Allen Farnham, and myself. Some very challenging stuff. On morning of the 24th we drove to Rostock Germany where we played for the second time at Upsprung, which is a nice little club in Rostock in the northeast of Germany. The music grows each night as we pour our hearts and souls deep into what we love to do. Next day we drove to Schwann Germany where we played at this really fantastic little place called Kulterschanke, run and owned by Sylva Tkotsch. We met Sylva last year when we performed in Rostock, and she absolutely insisted we come to perform at her venue this year. It was a great concert as it was completely acoustic with no microphones anywhere. A little stage which put us very close to each other. It felt great on the stage, as I could hear really well, and the usual monitor systems that these clubs have were not there to ruin the sound onstage. It was like playing in our living room. The music really took off that night. Before the concert, as the audience filed into the club, I noticed there were many older folks coming in as well as a younger crowd, so I felt that it would nice to give them a standard tune to start the set. We did that and then continued with our original music as we prepare for the recording on the 26-27th. Much to my surprise they were very enthusiastic about the original music. They really ate it up. We sold many CD’s and it ended as a great night.

Now comes the tough leg of the tour. We departed at 6am on the 26th, drove 2hours to Hamburg airport. Unloaded, returned the car, checked in, and took our flight to Zurich. We need to be in the Geneva area, but the flights from Hamburg to Geneva were so expensive I chose to go to Zurich as we had 85-euro flights. Upon arriving at Zurich we caught a train to Lausanne to arrive for the concert/live recording at Chorus Jazz Club. We got to the hotel at 4:40pm. Rested I hour and went to the sound check. Ate dinner and hit at 9pm. 2 burning sets to a packed club. This club has become our home away from home. We are so well received in Switzerland in general, but it is our 5th year playing at Chorus, and the same faces, and friends keep coming. Sold a load of CD’s and even though we were totally exhausted from the trip that day, and no sleep, we played our asses off. This band is incredible. For me it is a dream come true to work the music to this level, and simply to be on the stage performing at this level at this point in my life. I have dreamed of this path since I was 13 years old, when I first heard Elvin Jones play live at The Village Vanguard. I actually broke in tears during rehearsal of a ballad that Tim Horner wrote titled “I Wish I Knew You”, as I became over whelmed with the beauty of the music, and the gratitude I have for these musicians, the music, my family, thinking of lost friends, and the difficulties of life. Another song we play is a beautiful waltz dedicated to the bass player Bob Bowen who was tragically run over by a truck while riding his bike in New York. The song is titled “The Place I Feel Free”, composed by Tim Horner as well. It refers to Bob’s stories of his life, as he spoke to Tim, and said how the one place he feels free is when he is riding his bike, as the day-to-day problems of life disappear when riding. How sad, and ironic he was killed in that place he felt so free! Life is so fragile out here for us all, and we must continue to be grateful for what we have. I miss my family when on the road, but my road family keeps me moving, and I am very grateful for the music. It makes me feel free, alive, and continuously motivated to, play better today than I did yesterday!! Second night of recording at Chorus tonight. Can’t wait to hear it when finished!

Mark Sherman in Rostock

Allen Farnham

Dean Johnson

Tim Horner


Blues For Yokohama mp3

I’m listening for the first time to pianist/composer Eddie Mendenhall’s CD that I played on .We recorded it a while back when I was on a west coast tour of concerts and workshops. Eddie is a really fine writer and all around musician. The CD features Eddie on piano with John Schifflet(Bass), Akira Tana(Drums), and myself on vibes. It is some of my best playing recorded to date. It will be released on Miles High Records on February 15th 2011. Check the sample above!

Mark with Dave Liebman

Mark with Dave Liebman

I played a really nice record date for this fabulous singer from Chicago named Erin Mcdougald this week at Bennett Studios in Englewood New Jersey. On the date we had Dave Liebman, Tom Harrell, Dan Block, and myself in front with Rodney Green on Drums, with Cliff Schmitt on bass, and Rob Block on piano, and guitar. Rob Block did the arrangements along with Erin Mcdougald. All in all it was a fun date and for me a great honor to hang and play with Dave Liebman, and Tom Harrell who are warriors in the music, and I hold the deepest respect for.. Every note these guys played was golden. In fact that goes for everyone in the band. For me hanging and playing music with Dave Liebman was particularly exciting as I used to sit right behind him at The Village Vanguard nightly when he was performing with the Elvin Jones group regularly. As a student of Elvin’s I was allowed to sit in the back corner(with a coke), and watch at the ripe age of 14 years old. And now I am playing with Dave Liebman on a recording. It was an honor and a thrill as was it to play with Tom Harrell, as he is just brilliant all around. His sound, and language are just perfect in every way. Don’t know when the CD will release, but it is a beautiful project engineered by Tony Bennett’s son Dae Bennett, and Erin Mcdougald sings her ass off, looks and sounds really great. I wish her the best of luck with this CD.

Tom Harrell, Erin Mcdougald, Dave Liebman, and Mark Sherman

Tom Harrell, Erin Mcdougald, Dave Liebman, and Mark Sherman

Rodney Jones

Rodney Jones

I am currently on tour throughout Russia, and Southeast Asia with my quartet. On a flight today from Shenyang China to Guangzhou China I nearly cried as I listened to Rodney Jones’s CD entitled “Dreams And Stories”. This CD was recorded in the eighties featuring the late genius of Kenny Kirkland, Marc Johnson (from the Bill Evans trio), and Jeff Watts (from Wynton Marsalis Group). Of course at the time this was recorded none of these musicians had joined any of those groups yet. Their careers were just beginning to take off. Rodney had played with Dizzy Gillespie’s band at age 20 which of course gave great credibility to his career. Kenny Kirkland had his first big gig with Michael Urbaniak, and Jeff Watts of course was Wynton Marsalis’s drummer of choice from the first LP Wynton did for George Butler at CBS records. That relationship eventually led to me doing a solo LP for George Butler as well. At that time I remember Wynton coming up to me at the Juilliard school one day asking me who he could get to play piano on his record. He had just come to New York, and did not know all the young players. I recommended Kenny Kirkland to him, and that began relationship that I am sure changed Wynton’s life. I recommended Kenny because he was the best young pianist in New York, and my close friend as well. Rodney, Kenny, Cecil McBee Jr. and I had a band together that jammed regularly at the seminary next to Manhattan School Of Music, and also played local gigs in New York. I was playing drums in those days. Anyway Kenny, Rodney, and myself used to spend countless hours transcribing McCoy Tyner solos, Herbie Hancock solos, George Benson solos, as this was the passion, and these were the heroes in the music that led us to where we are today. Unfortunately Kenny is no longer with us, so when listening today to “Dreams And Stories”, which was released on High Note records after many years sitting on the shelf, I was brought to tears. I miss Kenny, and Rodney Jones continues to be one of my best friends in the world, and has helped my career take off over the years. Because of Rodney I was in the rhythm section for CD’s with Lena Horne, Tony Bennett, Ruth Brown, Gloria Lynn, as well as on the Rosie O’Donnell show as a keyboard player, and of course on 3 or 4 of Rodney’s solo CD’s. It has truly been a privilege to be close to Rodney, and be involved in his music. His deeply rooted love, and knowledge of our art form has had a tremendous influence on me through the years, and his deep spirituality has led me down the right path to enlightenment. I owe Rodney Jones a lot, and deeply value his friendship. He is truly one of the finest guitarist, composer, arranger producer, and educators on this planet. In addition his spiritual beliefs, and influence have had a profound effect on my life.  I think next to King George (George Benson), Rodney is the best. His vast array of harmonic language, and understanding of all styles has made him #1 in my mind as a producer. He can literally produce any type of music.  He knows just about every standard ever written, and can play, and or arrange them with a unique style that speaks of his life, and the music of today.  As a sideman Rodney has played with everyone from Queen Latifah to Dizzy Gillespie, and Dr. Lonnie Smith. He is certainly one of the most sought out guitarists in the world. These days Rodney is professor of guitar at the Juilliard Jazz program, where he is passing on his vast knowledge to the young up and coming guitarist in that program, which has quickly become one of the finest jazz programs in the US under the direction of the great drummer, and educator Carl Allen.  If you are a musician and you do not know who Rodney Jones is, then you are clearly living in a bubble separated from what is really happening in music. And to Rodney as a friend, and colleague for 40 years I say, “I love you, and thanks for the music. Knowing you has made me a better person, changed my life, and of course thanks for the music”!

Eddie Mendenhall

Listen to a cut from the session  Protocal

I just spent 4 days in California last weekend with Eddie Mendenhall, a very talented pianist and composer from Monterey. It turned out to be just a fantastic weekend as I played Friday night and Saturday night with Eddie as an organ trio, and Sunday’s concert was quartet with Eddie playing piano and Dan Robbins on bass, with Billy Jones on drums . First half of the concert I was a guest artist with the Monterey Peninsula College Jazz big band and the second half we played quartet. Anyway there was very appreciative crowd and I sold a bunch of CD’s. Later that night I went with Billy Jones and his wife to a party in Pebble Beach where they had a beautiful Kawai grand piano perfectly tuned with a bass player and drummer waiting, and they insisted of course that I play a few tunes. I had a nice time playing the piano and running through a few standards while looking at the beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean. Incredible house! Monday was an absolutely fantastic recording session with Akira Tana, John Schifflet,Eddie Mendenhall, and myself doing Eddie’s tunes, one of mine, and a few standards for Eddie’s CD project. The music was amazing. It was an honor to be part of it!

Ray Chew

Sheila E

Michael McDonald

Fred Hammond

Last week I had a great concert at Carnegie Hall under the direction of Ray Chew a great piano player and arranger/producer, who is a good friend of mine from music and art high school. We know each other since we are 13 years old(40 years),  and he called me to play me in the rhythm section for this great event. “A night of Inspiration” was the title of the evening. And that is was as the roster of performers included BeBe & CeCe WinansPastor Shirley Caesar, Patty Griffin, Richard Smallwood, Hezekiah Walker, Sheila E., Fred Hammond, and Michael McDonald, Plus Special Guests Phylicia Rashad and Pauletta Washington. The band kicked butt for Sheila E as she did her thing. She is very talented. Also Fred Hammond left a lasting impression on me. What a soulful cat. And of course Michael McDonald was incredible as always. I have worked with him in the past. The bottom line is I was very glad to see how well Ray Chew is doing, and it was a really fun to play with his rhythm section. It was completely sold out at Carnegie Hall. An intense evening of spirtuality and music complete with full orchestra and chorus.

WIth Sting

I had a little recording session of Sting’s music. He is demoing a bunch of arrangements to work out the fine points with the arrangers (Rob Mathis), and writers for his upcoming world tour. So New York’s finest studio players were assembled by Sandra Park the big film contractor in New York for a bunch of sessions. I did get to talk with Sting for a bit and get a picture with him. We spoke about some mutual friends, particularly Kenny Kirkland who I grew up playing with, and was the pianist of my generation who set the standards for all others. Anyway Sting has a picture of Kenny on his piano in his house as do I. It was nice to meet Sting briefly after admiring his music for years.

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