Born: April 17, 1957
After nearly 30 years of recording, composing, and performing with countless orchestras, jazz artists, and vocal artists, vibraphonist /composer Mark Sherman a Yamaha performing artist and a Vic Firth artist, has a beautiful quintet featuring Joe Magnarelli on trumpet, Allen Farnham on piano, Dean Johnson on bass, and Tim Horner on drums. Winner of Rising Vibes in 2007 and 2008 by Down Beat magazine, Sherman’s recording in 2005 “One Step Closer” featuring Joe Lovano was in the top ten on jazz radio for 12 weeks in the United States. The recording in 2007 “Family First” was the most spun CD in the United States in it’s opening week on the charts, and his most recent recording done live at the Bird’s Eye Jazz Club in Basel, Switzerland at the close of a 2 week European tour, is entitled Mark Sherman Quartet “Live at The Bird’s Eye” and continues to get rave reviews and big radio response. Tied in with most of Sherman's live performances (clubs, and festivals) is a 2 hour master-class on language skills for improvisation, usually done at the local music school or university music department, and sponsored by Yamaha and Vic Firth Co. These master-classes have been extremely successful at the high school and college level. I've received countless emails from students telling me how my system for learning the harmonic language needed for playing jazz was the simplest and most user friendly system they've come across, and that it answered many of the confusing questions, and got them improvising on chord changes very quickly. Mark Sherman's background, Juilliard education, and working, performance and recording experience have all contributed to a unique vision, which incorporates elements of jazz, blues, and classical music. Accomplished as a soloist (vibraphone/piano/drums), ensemble player, composer, and educator, Sherman is in love with music and re-harmonization of chords to explore and give expression to his musical vision. The Bronx-born and raised son of a star soprano who performed with the Cleveland and Boston Symphony Orchestras had 5 years of classical piano lessons before he fell in love with jazz through Lester Young, Charlie Parker and John Coltrane LP's. He had been playing drums for a while and practicing with records, emulating Elvin Jones, when he heard that Elvin was teaching at Frank Ippolito's Professional Percussion Center. Mark sought him out as a teacher. What he learned most from Elvin was a feeling of loose but intense swing and how to channel spiritual energy into music. Sherman graduated from the High school of Music and Art and then went on to Juilliard, where he had 5 solid years of percussion training with tympani master Saul Goodman, and percussion master Elden (Buster) Bailey. He played in symphonic situations led by Zubin Mehta, Sir George Solti, and Leonard Bernstein, and many other fine conductors. At Juilliard he met another soul at home in both classical and jazz worlds Wynton Marsalis. They jammed together regularly and years later when Columbia Records' George Butler inquired about Mark, Wynton's endorsement helped pave the way for Sherman's record date A New Balance (1986). The first few years after Juilliard he made a living in freelance studio scene in New York City. But more challenging work soon came his way, He found himself in playing situations with, Kenny Kirkland, Rodney Jones, Joe Beck, Jackie & Roy, the NY Philharmonic, the Joffrey Ballet Orchestra, the American Symphony, the NY New Music Ensemble and many other groups. David Chesky wrote a concerto for vibes and orchestra especially for Sherman, which has been performed at Lincoln Center. Mark performed as featured soloist in Darius Milhaud's Concerto For Marimba and Orchestra at Merkin Hall. Sherman went on the road with singers Jackie and Roy(4 years), which led to his recording and working with Peggy Lee (6 years). From her he had lessons in how to turn a musical phrase and subtle time. Working with the special musicians Lee surrounded herself with (Mike Renzi, Jay Leonhart, Grady Tate, and Jon Chiodini) led to gigs with Mel Torme, and recordings with other singers including Maureen McGovern, Liza Minelli, Tony Bennett, Lena Horne, Ruth Brown, Gloria Lynn, Laverne Butler and many others. He played on records by guitarists Joe Beck and Rodney Jones, and also co- produced Jones' CD The Unspoken Heart for Minor Music in Germany. Sherman began touring with R&B pioneer Ruth Brown just at the time when she was being re-appreciated as a jazz singer. But her singing of standards always calls for a heavy dose of blues feeling and blues changes. Mark was exposed to a lot of different blues forms and tempos. In accompanying her he gained a renewed awareness of the blues as the roots of all American popular music. He played vibes and piano on Brown's Songs Of My Life (Fantasy records) After recording for small labels, A New Balance (CBS) showcased his skills as a composer, vibraphonist, and pianist. In the last few years Mark has been performing with his group and doing master classes worldwide. Some of his music has been used regularly on TV shows. Mark has toured with guitarist Larry Coryell. He produced two of Coryell's CD’s, I'll Be Over You (CTI records), and Sketches Of Coryell (Shanachie records) and played on “New High”(High Note records). Mark played vibes on Gloria Lynne's This One's On Me (High Note records) as well as Lena Horne’s release on (Blue Note records). In addition Mark has eight CD's of his own music “Fulcrum Point”, “A New Balance “(CBS), Spiral Staircase, High Rolling, “The Motive Series“, “One Step Closer”, “Family First”, and his latest Quartet recording “Live at The Bird’s Eye” which are available globally, and on the internet at www.markshermanmusic.com or www.mileshighrecords.com....
Let’s praise journeymen: Unsung -veterans are��to steal an Aretha Franklin lyric-doing it for themselves. Vibist Mark Sherman is a case in point. This band sounds like the kind of unit you’d love to spend an evening with in a club. —James Hale, Downbeat Magazine December 2005
Mark Sherman plays vibes with a brash, sprinting edge and a declamatory, ringing sound. He's also a gifted composer who can place swirling, complex harmonies into a swinging format under catchy, even memorable melodies. He deserves a lot more exposure, and now, with One Step Closer, he's got a terrific record that will widen his audience considerably, if there's any justice. There isn't a weak track on this album. Sherman is consistently inventive. His use of boppish grace notes adds unpredictability to his lines. Mark Sherman has delivered a winner. —Marc Myers, All About Jazz
Sherman’s recent albums prove him a player worthy of consideration in the same breath as contemporary vibraphonists like Joe Locke, Steve Nelson, and Stefon Harris, and the one-two punch of The Motive Series and One Step Closer prove that he’s arrived and is giving the modern mainstream a fresh alternative voice. —John Kelman All About Jazz
Mark Sherman - ONE STEP CLOSER: Must have been jazz heaven that Mark had in mind when he titled this CD... 'coz that is where this music will take you - at least if you're a jazz-head, that is. His vibraphone work is brilliant, shining jazz that will get your motor running! We've been reviewing his great works since about 1995 or so... all the way back to issue # 36... about 4 CD's thus farly... I'm sure that's why they keep coming our way, 'coz everything I've ever heard from him had real panache & spirit - & One Step Closer takes him (& you, the listener) ever nearer Nirvana, to be sure. This one will be on the racks in your favorite local store around September 6th, 2005, & you'll want to be first in line to snatch this one up. He's joined by some really strong players... Joe Lovano does tenor sax, Joe Magnarelli on trumpet & flugelhorn, Allen Farnham on piano, Dean Johnson's bass & Tim Horner on drums. Once again, Mark has put together a truly classic jazz set that you'll want to stay in your active collection. Nearly all original (& new) pieces, you'll fall in love immediately with his skill & energy... my favorite on this album was Spiritual Exercise... it's the kind of tune (particularly because of the vibes) that will spur you to get connected again - no slothful spirits here, I can tell you. This CD gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for those who love jazz that kicks tail! —Rotcod Zzaj Improvijazation magazine
Mark Sherman's sixth album will hopefully do something to spread the word about this talented vibraphonist's work. Sherman knows how to play a ballad or bop tune well, and his style harkens back to a 1960s Blue Note sensibility��invoking at times Bobby Hutcherson's work during that period. -Michael P. Gladstone All About Jazz
New York-based vibist, marimba player and composer Sherman makes modern-minded, melodically underpinned music on this appealing CD. Sherman gets a warm, ringing tone; his compositions and improvisations tell interesting stories. Sherman rolls out crisp, long lines. - Zan Stewart Sunday's Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ).
Mark Sherman - THE MOTIVE SERIES: Sherman's vibe playing on this jazzy little CD will excite those of you who have already listened to his work (he's been reviewed here for quite some time now), as well as new listeners. I mean, this cat is all over it, & will have ya' groovin'. The fact that Michael Brecker guests on tracks 2 & 4 doesn't hurt matters, either, but Sherman's original compositions (all except cuts 1 & 9) are what captivated my ears more than anything else. Mark is one of the absolute best vibraphone players on the planet today, & his crisp, straight-ahead compositional style is immediately attractive to any jazz listener who has even the slightest dose of hip! There is fire shining from his (musical) soul, & it will be immediately apparent to your ears that you're in the presence of a master! This CD gets our MOST HIGHLY RECOMMENDED rating, as well as the PICK of 2004 for best vibe jazz. Truly, this is one of the best albums we've heard this year! -Dick Metcalf, aka Rotcod Zzaj Improvijazzation Nation Magazine
“Mark Sherman is a fresh, clear, bright voice on the vibes. This is apparent from the first track. The M otive Series should elevate Mark Sherman to the prominence he deserves.” -Dr. Judith Schlesinger, All About Jazz
Mark Sherman is a long time friend who composed the super-hip Spiral Staircase and plays vibes with a vengeance. In this unrestricted atmosphere of a straight ahead blowing date, he came through with some killer solos and ensemble playing. -Larry Coryell (liner notes High Note Records)
a sensitive virtuoso on the vibraphone -Andrew Porter, New Yorker Magazine NYC
Mark Sherman: A New Balance on Columbia is getting some re-awakened interest nationally because of a fusion oriented single, Changes In My Life, drawn from Sherman's ecclectic album. The vibes player knows his way around the keyboards and synthesizer too. Serenity is a straight ahead effort and Songo a burner. Both cuts will appeal to the broad jazz audience: The album is worth a spin: it's getting that all across the country. -Jazziz Magazine
“One of the more exciting discoveries was the playing of Sherman..... There is a lot to absorb in Shermans playing....A small price to pay for the chance to hear a performer who explores a song so thoroughly. -The Citizen, Ottawa
Sherman's trio churned out pulsing meaty jazz in a variety of styles. Sherman played several shimmering vibe solos that packed a explosive punch. His bold improvisations effectively countered the tightly orchestrated arrangements. -The Charlotte Observer Charlotte N.C.
A fine performance (of Darius Milhaud's Concerto for Marimba, Vibraphone and Orchestra)... This rarely performed work exploits the Marimba to great advantage. -Bill Zakariasen, The Daily news NYC
Sherman's playing has flash, sophistication, and depth harmonically. -San Francisco Chronicle
L. A. SessionsMiles High Records
Family FirstCity Hall Records
Live at the Bird's EyeMiles High Records
Family FirstCity Hall Records
The Motive SeriesCAP
One Step CloserCAP
The Motive SeriesCAP
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Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
On the faculty of New Jersey City University Jazz Dept, Workshops/ Concerts at The Juilliard School of Music, Manhattan School Of Music, Peabody Conservatory,USSBA and Youth Education Association,EJMA Jazz School(Laussane Switzerland), University Of Souther Mississippi Jazz Dept., Monterey Pennisula College, Occidental College, The Jazz School(Berkeley CA)
Master-class/Concert summary: I do a master class primarily on language skills for improvisation (applicable on all instruments). The most common problem that many high school students and college students have is that they have this eternal question that needs to be clarified. That is “what scales go with which chord changes, how can I apply them to create good solos”. My method takes you through learning all your 2-5-1 progressions in all keys using various drills, for voicing and mastery of the chords in all keys. Utilizing major scales and diminished scales I can get a beginner moving very quickly on his or her quest to master the understanding and performance of chord changes. I take you through a simple and methodical way of thinking about harmony and improvisations. My scale drills and chord outline drills combined with my motive development drill will drive your improvising in forward motion. The simplicity of my way of thinking of the language allows a student to learn it quick and begin soloing right away which turns learning into fun as well as boosts the players confidence on their instrument of choice. After a 2hr clinic (complete with handouts of my materials) I rehearse a group of faculty members or local players in a program of a couple of original compositions combined with my arrangements of various standards and I do an evening concert leading a quartet (the performance portion can be incorporated into the master-class if time and budget do not allow an evening performance). This allows the students to see my method in its highest form of application. They notice many of the techniques discussed in the clinic in performance. I find this to be a great learning and motivating experience for them. I have had many letters from students long after I’m gone telling me of how my one day at their school helped them feel secure about what they were playing. This program has been successful at The Juilliard School, Peabody Conservatory, University of Southern Missisippi and many other university and high school music departments that I’ve traveled to. Yamaha sponsors many of the traveling clinics I do with instruments and some funding when needed. Here are some testimonial regarding my teaching method: I found Mark's teaching method to be the best I've yet encountered regarding what's REALLY important in jazz, i.e., his "triplets" concept re: feeling time, for example. He knows how to convey all the essentials of extended harmony and at the same time keeps you glued to the basics of swinging, soulful phrasing plus how to listen & respond the other players. U can't get any better than that. Larry Coryell Jazz Guitarist • It is with great pleasure that I lend my support to this web site. Mark Sherman is a unique individual in that he embodies both the spirit of musical excellence with a gift and desire to assist others in their musical quests. I have known Mark for some 30 years now and have had the pleasure of performing with him in numerous settings from Lena Horne to Rosie O'Donnell as well as on three of my own Cd's including my most recent release on Blue note Records scheduled for a spring 2001 release. I have also watched Mark in action as a teacher and musical mentor. I can think of no finer person that one could apprentice to. He has a gift for distilling the key elements in any style of music thus making accelerated learning possible. Rather than wasting time studying things that are not necessary, Mark is able to guide the student to those key elements that make musical progress quick and learning fun. I wholeheartedly recommend his teaching methods. Now everyone has the opportunity to experience what the pros in the music business already know. Mark is an amazing musician, teacher and most importantly, a fine human being. Rodney Jones, October 2000 Blue note Records Recording Artist Professor of Jazz Guitar Studies, Manhattan School of Music Over a span of several decades, Mark Sherman has consistently proven himself as an original and creative improviser. Finally his wonderful improvisation system is available online. This system reveals valuable secrets in a clear easy way and covers all bases Bravo! Kenwood Dennard Associate Professor, Berklee Coll. of Music Formerly with Miles Davis Mark Sherman's approach to teaching reflects the multidimensional experiences he's had as a pianist, vibist and percussionist over the years performing and recording in a variety of musical contexts. It is one thing to be a soloist, it is another challenge to be a well-rounded musician who is prepared to play what the music calls for. Mark Sherman can teach whatis necessary to play."* Akira Tana Drummer “Tana Reid Project Mark Sherman's master class was absolutely fantastic! It provided students with a clear path to the world of improvisation using a method that was both logical and engaging. That Mark could demonstrate his approach fluently on vibraphone, piano, and drum set also enhanced his presentation tremendously. It was a revelation to a very eager group of musicians, who since that time have improved dramatically. I am grateful to Mark Sherman for putting together a series that will help numerous students find their voice in music. Paul Hostetter-Faculty, The Julliard School Finally students of jazz improvisation have a clear guide in Mark Sherman. His method of integrating scales and chords into a linear and rhythmic framework is as satisfying and learning-friendly as I've seen. Any student of Mark's will immediately gain confidence, and the ability to play thru chord changes seamlessly. I applaud his enabling generosity. Gordon Gottlieb-The Juilliard School