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One Step Closer by Mark Sherman

Relatively unknown New York vibraphonist Mark Sherman seems close to a breakthrough with his new release One Step Closer. On the CD, tenor sax great Joe Lovano guest stars with Sherman regulars, Allen Farnham (piano), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet), Dean Johnson (bass) and Tim Horner (drums). Lovano’s presence may just give the group the power to penetrate the jazz market.

Sherman has been around for the past 25 years, having provided backup for such vocal stars as Peggy Lee and Tony Bennett, as well as putting in time with guitarist Larry Corryell. His talent on vibes speaks for itself in the straight-ahead, post bop language of a Gary Burton or Milt Jackson. Also like the legendary Jackson, he is very effective on slow moody ballads.

After forming his quintet, Sherman put out the critically acclaimed The Motive Series in 2004. That time the outstanding Michael Brecker on tenor was spotlighted guest.

As with the first, the new CD features mostly originals, focusing on Sherman's interplay with Magnarelli, himself a traditionalist in the Clifford Brown, early Miles tradition. A fine example of this is Sherman’s beatific up-tempo track "Spiritual Exercise," reminiscent of Davis’ classic "So What." Drummer Horner really keeps things moving here.

Lovano, plays on four sides, verifing his inclusion immediately in the up-tempo opener, "Modal Blues," another original by the leader. This hard-charger includes a lively Sherman solo, a swinging rapid-fire trumpet interlude by Magnarelli, but Lovano steals the show with his commanding tour-de-force improvisation. This boppish romp closes with drummer Horner exchanging blazing fours with group members.

One of Sherman's strengths is his quiet, reflective side This comes across in two compositions dedicated to family members--the delicately melodic "My Princess" for his wife and the bossa nova-tinged "Ella Bella" for his daughter. Listen for Magnarelli’s velvet-toned fluegelhorn on this one.

The CD’s real standout tune, though, is pianist Farnham’s spicy Calypso "Genkitively," with Sherman's marimba evoking a steel band. Its delightful herky-jerky tune again puts Lovano in the solo spotlight. It’s guaranteed to make you feel like doing the limbo.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Mark Sherman
  • CD Title: One Step Closer
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: CAP Records
  • Tracks: Modal Blues, Little Lullaby, Moon River, Spiritual Exercise, Hope, Genkitively, My Princess, My One and Only Love, Ella Bella, Long Trip Home
  • Musicians: Mark Sherman (vibraphone/marimba), Joe Lovano (tenor sax), Joe Magnarelli (trumpet/fluegelhorn), Dean Johnson (bass), Tim Horner (drums)
  • Rating: Three Stars
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