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.

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.

 

Tim Horner recording date. The Band

 

I played a really nice concert as guest artist with pianist/composer Antonio Ciacca and his 4tet last night. in Lanciano Italy as part of  Estate Musicale Frentana 2011. We played many of Antonio’s compositions, and a few standards as well. Antonio is a fine writer, who takes already known songs, and song forms and makes them his own, by re-harmonizing, and re-arranging them. A very effective technique that many of us jazz musicians do. The musicians in the band played really well. Saxophonist Paulo Recchia, bassist Giuseppe Bassi, and drummer Francesco Ciniglio all swung really hard for the entire concert with Antonio, and I. It was a pleasure to work with them all for the first time. Those first time playing experiences are really the ones I love, as it reaffirms how the music is a universal language, and you can get on the stage with musicians you don’t know, never played with, did not rehearse with, can barely speak with because of the language barrier, and the magic can happen. It is what makes me excited about music. It is was what is so motivating about playing jazz. In the classical world there are always many rehearsals before a concert. In the jazz world, if you have good players, you need not even rehearse sometimes, and the music can just evolve. it is a beautiful thing. I love what I do. I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. Thursday the 21rst of July I will do the Farro Sabina Jazz Festival near Rome, with Antonio and a completely different rhythm section. I am sure this will a similar or even more powerful experience. Can’t wait!!

I will blog it after the concert.

 

I was hit by a taxi cab while crossing 42nd street, and 6th avenue in New York City on April 22nd. I suffered a nasty head shot with a bad hematoma, concussion, and 25 stitches,  2 broken fingers, a broken shoulder in 2 places, and a terrible cut down to the bone on my left thumb. Actually I am lucky to be alive. It is a humbling experience to be walking across the street, and then to wake up from being knocked out to a stranger holding your head saying, “don’t move, your head is bleeding really badly”. Anyway I have healed up pretty well since the accident except for my left hand which is still messed up. I can play, but I feel I am still working at 60%.

Last week was the first week I worked in 8 weeks as a jazz player playing vibes. The great Italian pianist, Antonio Ciacca a big figure in the jazz world, was kind enough to give me 6 nights at The Setai Hotel “Bar on Fifth” on 36th street and 5th avenue in New York.  I played trio and quartet with various different drummers, and bass players. Antonio played with me to make it a quartet for 3 of the nights, and the bass players were David Wong(Roy Haynes band, and Jimmy Heath), Martin Wind, and Mike Karn who is as good a saxophonist as a bass player. A super talent he is!! The drummers were Pete Van Nostrand (Kenny Barron band, Jimmy Heath band) for 5 nights , and Quincy Davis for 1 night.  The music was rewarding, motivating, and spiritual all the way through. These players are all at the top of their game, and we just ripped through many standards, blues, and rhythm changes all week. I am truly grateful to Antonio Ciacca for this opportunity to come back playing strong. I play 3 sets a night for 6 nights which allowed me to test my stamina, and of course have a great time playing, which I live for. Of course after each night I was on ice like an athlete, and in physical therapy in the mornings. I was really hurting, and swollen after each night, but the music keeps me going, and I am grateful to still be here to play. It is like being an athlete without the 15 million dollars a year, whirlpools, massage and 24/7 physical maintenance. Not easy. Thanks to Antonio Ciacca for a great week!

Mark,Lenny,Jammey

Today I played a recording date for Chesky Records in a church in Brooklyn. It was David Chesky’s idea to put Lennie White, Jamey Haddad, and myself together for a recording with all percussion instruments, and drums. It was quite an experience. Lennie White whose playing I have admired since I first saw him with Chic Corea, and “Return To Forever” many years ago, was really great to work with. Additionally Jamey Haddad was also incredible to work with. We played together years ago on Howard Shore’s film score for the movie “The Score”. Jamey is a master world percussionist. My set up was the classical percussion mixed with some groove percussion, as well as playing the vibes which is what most know me for these days. Lennie played what Lennie always does, and that is to play the drums with great feeling, and expertise. The session was recorded with the audio file technique that has made Chesky Records the label it is today. In front of our set-ups was two heads of dummies(pictured below, which contained one microphone in each ear, used to achieve perfect surround sound in a headphone mix, and then there was one super duper microphone in the middle. The music was totally improvised, and created in real time using themes for each piece. Themes like Tranquility, Peace, Battle, War, Water. We used these different moods and words to define the direction of the music. Pretty amazing stuff came out of it, as we were all able to bond beautifully and create something different. This was a far cry from any session I have done in my life. Much different than the jazz sessions I have been doing as of late, but lots of fun. I admire Dave Chesky for stepping out of the ordinary formats, and trying something quite a bit different!

Mark's Percussion set up

MARK ON LENNY WHITE'S DRUMS

Mark Sherman+David CheskyDummy microphones

Play back and Iphoning

Bow at end

Bow at end

Smile Drum Solo

Smile Drum Solo

After a really great Master Class at the Ayala Museum in Manila we walked over to the Green Belt Park venue, where we were to have our final concert of the tour. At the ambassador’s residence, and at this stage was a great drum set provided by a local drummer named Andy. They were old Gretsch Drums with a small 18″marching and style bass drum. It was really an interesting sounding set. Tim Horner plays the hell out of anything, but I know Tim was happy to see this drum kit for the last few days of the tour. Anyway we set up, and played a beautiful concert in the park for maybe 2-300 people.

Each night we played, the music got more and more locked into enlightenment stage. Where everything is so comfortable. The solos had just gotten so amazing throughout. Jim Ridl is a monster improviser. He has many styles under his belt, and twentieth century classical to mix into it. He has clearly done some score reading. Then of course add the emotional build up of arriving at the last concert of say 30 events. It was an intense evening of music. We all four just flat out gave everything to the music we could. Tim Horner played one of the best constructed solos I have ever witnessed on the intro to Jim Ridl’s “Smile Said The Drum” dedicated to Elvin Jones and his intense smile. The solo was a really true tribute to Elvin. Tim implied it all in his purposeful way of negotiating life, and the music itself. What an intense  night for us all as we laid it all out that night. Last concert of the tour.

It was sweltering hot outside that night. And it was humid. Not like China, but the lights onstage made it really hot. I lost a lot of water. On this tour we have all lost a lot of water. We sweated like mad on most gigs. I thought I would have lost weight, but they just kept feeding us, and feeding us. Sometimes 4 hours between meals we would have to go to a host dinner. Breakfast was free all the way through as we had some really amazingly luxurious breakfast buffets in the top shelf hotels we were put in. The Asian cuisine is very thorough. When they put out a buffet, it is intense. Anyway there was no losing weight. You are on the road, and somehow you get this feeling you need to “Eat For Your Life”! It does get tough out on the road sometimes.

Concert done. Lots of thanks, photos, and interviews afterwards. Another exciting day finished. A lot of work done. A lot of music put out there!

Greenbelt Park Manila

Greenbelt Park Manila

Pictures at the end

Pictures at the end


Master Class

Master Class
Tim Horner lectures about music

Tim Horner lectures about music

Working with Professor Hui Yu

Working with Professor Hui Yu

Talking about musical cooperation

Talking about musical cooperation

We had another nice Master class and concert at Shenyang Normal University for the music department there. The Dean of the music department is Professor Hui Yu. He is a doctorate of Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University in the US. He lived in the US for 16 years, and spoke English better than anyone we have come across in the other venues. This made it quite easy for us to communicate throughout the afternoon and evening.

At the beginning we were told that the students were mainly classically trained, and that they would be shy when it came to asking questions. Actually once we got going there were many questions from the students. After the first was asked, they all began to open up, which of course helps us, as we want them to participate. One of the best questions asked was, “How do you reach musical cooperation on a piece of music”? I found this to be a great opportunity to demonstrate just how we as professionals get together to rehearse original music.

I started by acting as if I was making a phone call to Jim Ridl.” Hi Jim. Do you want to come over to my house and work through some new music?” Jim says YES! Then to Tom Dicarlo the same question, and to Tim Horner the same question. SO we get together, and Jim pulls out his new tune “Sun On My Hands”, which is dedicated to his father who was a farmer in North Dakota, and had very dark hands from working outside for many years.

I spoke of how after 35 years of practicing the language skills need for negotiation the chord changes, and harmonic language used in jazz improvisation, it was very easy for us to knock out a performance of any song right on the fly, as the cooperation, and conversation takes shape on its own when the musician are of a high level. I spoke of how Jim might play the first A section of the melody, and then I would play the 2nd A section, then Jim would play the B section, and perhaps I would answer with the last A section. Then Jim might solo on one A section, then I would solo on the 2nd A section, and we would join together at the B section, and complete the tune with a great moving, emotional performance. That emotion and spirit in the music can happen in my house. It does not have to be in a concert situation. Anyway this really demonstrated the mutual cooperation between musicians in jazz performance. It really sent the message to the students.

Then the professor of clarinet named Zhao’ Jie’ came running up on stage very excited about this piece of music he wanted to play with us. His music was written in the key of B flat for clarinet, and Jim had a piano part with no chord changes at all in C. Tom on the bass had no chart at all, and Tim on drums had nothing either. I had to transpose the B flat melody down one step. Within 5 minutes we came up with a good plan to make this work for the clarinet professor. I set it up with a little vamp, and away we all went. It was really good, and Jim, Tom, Tim and myself made something happen. The magic of jazz improvisation.

Afterwards Tim Horner took the microphone and mentioned how this unexpected jam session with the clarinet professor was a perfect example of how us musicians must always be using our ears to negotiate the music. For example Tom Dicarlo, and Tim Horner had no music at all, and Jim Ridl, and myself were using music with no harmonic definitions (chord changes). So listening and using the ears are vital in this situation.

Afterwards the trombone professor Zhou Gang who was the first to ask a question in the master class came up on stage with us, and jammed on an F blues. We all had a lot of fun, and I felt we really reached the students.

Afterwards we were hosted to a beautiful traditional lunch, and then a short rest, and a concert performance, which went well as usual. Many pictures, and autographs were taken as normal with all performances we have done. Another triumph for this band!

Zhao Jie' jams with the quartet

Zhao Jie' jams with the quartet

Setting up the jam with trombone professor Zhou Gang

Jamming with Trombone professor Zhou Gang

View from the stage

View from the stage

Accepting gift

Accepting gift

Autographs afterwards

Autographs afterwards

With embassy host Tom Underwood

With embassy host Tom Underwood

Mobbed at the end

Mobbed at the end

By the look of the pictures above you can see this concert was spectacular. It was set on the top of Incheon in Macarthur Park on an outdoor stage on a beautiful evening. The view from here was fantastic view of all of Incheon. Very beautiful. The band played really well.  The sound crew was really great. They set everything up for us, and were very meticulous about how they did everything. Judging by the way they do things here in South Korea, I think someday they might be on top of the world economy. They do everything with amazing precision, and speed. I was really impressed with the entire set up. They really take pride in whatever job they are doing, whether it is waiting on a table ,doing sound, or just being a driver for the band. it is really something spectacular to watch. Also the people are extremely friendly and warm. The concert went well and we were mobbed at the end, and given some beautiful gifts.

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!

Paul Meyers Band

Great night Friday night at Trumpets Jazz Club with the Paul Meyers Band featuring Vanderlei Pereira,  Helio Alves, and Leo Traversa. Normally Donny McCaslin plays with this band. I subbed for him. I really enjoyed Paul’s music. He is a fine writer. His tunes have emotion, spirit, and a clever use of harmony to convey his own distinctive sound. Helio Alves is a brilliant improvisor, and Leo Traversa has a gorgeous sound on this really beautiful 5 string electric bass he played. Vanderlei Pereira having been born in Rio has really a different way of playing jazz. Paul has a lot of Brazilian flavored music and of course this is right up Vanderle’s alley. He has a key instinct for the music as he makes all hits and  and section changes by instinct. It is amazing. Does not sound too difficult make all the hits and  deal with the form of the music. For most it is not. You just follow the chart and give to the music, but Vanderlei’s chart is his ears as he is blind.  I was so blown away by him. Not because he is blind, but from his playing. A great player. All great players!! And great music. In addition Trumpets has improved their musical venue by extending the stage a bit to make more room for the music. The sound and light additions have really helped. It is a much better venue to play because of these improvements.