Mark Sherman

The L.A. Sessions

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Vibraphonist Mark Sherman has primarily focused on his own compositions on earlier CDs, but for this 2011 session he gathered three of his favorite musicians (organist Bill Cunliffe, guitarist John Chiodini, and drummer Charles Ruggiero) to explore standards written by bop greats. Though most of the songs have been recorded fairly often, Sherman puts a fresh touch on them, particularly by featuring organ rather than piano, giving the band a lighter, less percussive sound, and adding an infectious groove with the feeling that the pieces were at most briefly discussed as to tempo and key and little more. Dizzy Gillespie's "Woody N' You" shines in this breezy performance, with the musicians passing the lead back and forth and featuring several breaks by Ruggiero as well. The buoyant treatment of Charlie Parker's "Quasimodo" has a jaunty air, with Cunliffe adding a soulful touch and Chiodini's intricate guitar. In Benny Golson's "Whisper Not," Sherman offers a nice mix of sparse, elegant lines and a rapid-fire bluesy attack. He is also up to the task of tackling fellow vibraphonist Milt Jackson's loping blues "Bags' Groove," powered by the funky playing of his band as he delivers a driving, swinging solo. Sherman also includes his own "Far Away," a spacious, intimate ballad with a sense of longing. Bonus material includes valuable alternate takes of "Woody N" You," "Quasimodo," and "Celia" that must have made the final choice for the master takes difficult.

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