Friday, July 23, 2010

A Live DVD From Vibist Mark Sherman

Live jazz DVDs can be great ways to experience the music. That's so with the Mark Sherman Quintet's Live at Sweet Rhythm (Miles High 8610), It's a longish set (or composite set) in a congenial club setting. The Quintet unselfconsciously goes through their original tunes with a looseness good live jazz can have if conditions are right.

Mark Sherman plays a keenly honed vibes style that incorporates the Bags through Hutcherson and mid-Trane sort of stylistic conglomeration. But he does it with real skill and swing and he does not seem at all cloned. His band is quite congenial to his style parameters. I'm quite impressed with drummer Tim Horner. He plays beautiful time, with the kicks and pushes that put the group into the pocket. Dean Johnson's bass is also super-foundational to the band's driven pulsations.

Pianist Allen Farnham plays an uncluttered harmonic comping which, most importantly for this instrumentation, does not clash with Sherman's chordal moments. Farnham digs in for some melodic blowing and most definitely serves as a nice contrast to the vibe pyrotechnics of Mr. Sherman. Finally Joe Magnarelli adds much to the doings on trumpet and fluegelhorn. He has a little of Art Farmer in his approach, to my ears, as well as the mainstays of the hard bop trumpet lineage. As the sole horn he gives another punctuation to the improvisational prose and he plays his role quite well.

They run through ten tunes on this audio-video capture. There's Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle," done nicely, and nine Sherman originals. Some are really fitting and move! Others sometimes have a slightly ordinary harmonic predictability. Well, they blow in the tradition, and the tradition is not often given to startling (to present-day ears) chord sequences, so what it is, it is supposed to be.

The sound is very decent. The video work concentrates on showing the band straightforwardly and that's a plus for feeling like you are there. Supplementary sections supply short interviews by each of the band members. That's informative and adds to it all.

The band in general and Mark Sherman in particular play here a very solid set and will satisfy anyone with a mainstream bent. Sherman's vibes are something to check out!

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