Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mark Sherman: The L.A. Sessions

Miles High Records
By Ric Bang
Buy CD: The L.A. Sessions

Bebop fans will enjoy this album. It’s not the frenetic kind of bop that dazzled the jazz world back in the day; it’s more “polite” ... but it swings just as much. 

Sherman began his career as a drummer, switched to piano and then the vibraphone. He’s also a prolific composer. Although jazz is his first love, he has extensive experience with classical orchestras and is on a first-call basis with many name vocalists.

Pianist/arranger/composer Bill Cunliffe switches gears and plays B3 Hammond organ here. Early in his career, he toured with Buddy Rich and Frank Sinatra and, after moving to the West Coast, worked with icons such as Ray Brown. Cunliffe has written scores for films, TV and other orchestras, including his own magnificent big band.

Guitarist John Chiodini is world-famous. He was a member of the Boston Pops Orchestra, under Arthur Fiedler, in the 1960s and ’70s. After moving to Los Angeles, Chiodini toured, wrote and recorded with both jazz groups and name vocalists such as Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett and Shirley Horne.
Drummer Charles Ruggiero was a member of the New York City jazz scene for several years; he landed a gig with Chuck Mangione, toured with Marilyn Manson and is an in-demand sideman.

It’s clear that this group enjoyed revisiting the bebop era. Many well-known bop standards are included here: Dizzy Gillespie’s “Woody ’n You,” Milt Jackson’s “Bag’s Groove,” Charlie Parker’s “Quasimodo,” Benny Golson’s “Whisper Not” and others. Sherman also contributes an original (“Far Away”), and the group puts a new polish on Burke & Van Heusen’s “It Could Happen to You.”

This is a neat album. It’ll bring back a lot of memories and demonstrate that what was exciting years ago, still can get your pulse pounding today.

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