Mark Sherman: The L.A. Sessions. CD review by Stanley Fefferman

The first time I listened to Mark Sherman’s album—on my Acura surround system—I enjoyed the bebop/standards in a general way like it was yesterday.

Today I took The L.A. Sessions out for a stroll on the boardwalk: tuning in with my Shure 535 earbuds I really heard the instrumental voices in conversation. Generally, I liked Sherman’s touch on the vibes, and his riffing with John Chiodini’s elegant guitar comping and commenting sometimes in very witty style.

Bill Cunliffe’s B3 did nice background on “Woody ‘n You”; his solo came off  weird and too watery after the vibes, the organ timbre a bit too strangled. Charles Ruggiero’s drum-set was serviceable, noticeably so in the background to “It Could Happen to You.” His first chorus on “Quasimodo” was interesting but developed too much snare ‘drilling’. Similar  Woody Woodpecker problem on the immortal “Bag’s Groove,” though Ruggiero’s work with cymbals really breathed here—like a living thing.

I love Benny Golson’s tune “Whisper Not,” and Sherman’s treatment–no funk, no fusion, just jazz, head to head, all hip, no hop, no rock, straight up lyrical ballads like Wordsworth would have dug. Coltrane’s “Moment’s Notice,” good–the wildest number on the album. “Bag’s Groove,” O yeah, a bluesy boogie salute to the flag of Jacksonville with great Sherman solos, and also Chiodini’s guitar. Cunliffe’s B3 burbles through the wood on “Serpent’s Tooth.”  The bonus track arrangement of Parker’s “Quasimodo’ is a departure from straight, alluding strangely but nicely to “Surrey with the Fringe On Top.”

9 tracks, 3 bonus takes, totally worth listening to again and again. Next time I’ll take it out on my Chord amp cum B&W 800’s and invite Jim who’d rather not hear anything recorded after the early 70’s to change his mind.


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