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

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Great concert in Fara In Sabina just 40 km north of Roma. Wow way up high in the mountain above Roma with the most amazing view. I was a guest artist with the Antonio Ciacca trio. We played Antonio’s well calculated re-harmonizations of standards and a few normal standards like “Bolivia” by Cedar Walton. Antonio opened up trio with his bass player and drummer from Italy of many years, Nicola Muresu from Sardinia, and the drummer Nicola Angelucci. They were really relaxed, swinging players. It all swung real hard from the opening standard “You’re My Everything” until the final Antonio Ciacca composition Lago’s Blues, a straight eighth tune that any great player could dig into. I had visions of what my colleague and friend the late Michael Brecker might have done to this tune. He would have torn it up, as it combines and F vamp, and F blues. I had a blast playing it. The great a show with Antonio Ciacca is it is packed with music that is deeply rooted in the jazz tradition, filled with standards, blues, and rhythm changes, as well as Antonio speaks before the tunes about the history of the music. He is so knowledgable about jazz. There is a lot info music history information behind each description of the tunes. I can see why Jazz At Lincoln Center, and Wynton Marsalis chose Antonio as the director of programming. A position Antonio held for the last 5 years. So each show is filled with the great performances, and the music history. Something I myself could incorporate more of in my own shows as a leader.

After the concert we slept in a Monestery that looked to be thousands of years old. Just a spooky, maze of rooms that I guess the nuns, and priests from the church stayed in. Really an amazing looking place. All in all a great night.

Antonio Ciacca Quartet

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

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.