Mark Sherman: With Freedom

Setting out with Coltrane in mind, NYC piano and vibes man and his quartet end up sounding influenced yet very creative


This is a thrusting, searching, post-hard-bop quartet headed by pianist and vibes man Sherman. Although both he and tenor saxist Dillon have their own sounds, their approach is in the late 50s-60s Coltrane quartet style.

Sherman talks in his sleeve note about his admiration for the Trane, Tyner and Jones band and his belief that he achieved such a sound on this recording. He did, up to a point. The sound has a lot in common with early Coltrane and it is interesting to compare these versions of Love Thy Neighbour and I’ll Wait And Pray with the Trane readings of the late 50s. You can hear where Sherman is coming from, but to be accurate his lines are his own. The same applies to Dillon, who has a firm grasp of Trane’s sheets of sound period and works through his own version with a commanding tone. He has an inventive approach to all the material here.

Sherman’s With Freedom is the most original chart by the pianist and his solo is melodic and inventive. Dillon follows his leader with a fresh, spiralling solo. Dillon was a student at Julliard and Sherman has been teaching there for the past 15 years so these two understand each other very well. Fanny O is a strong jazz ballad by the leader where he plays vibes in solo in a warm, constructive manner. His lines on vibraphone are particularly impressive. Dillon is lyrical in a nicely thought-out solo.

Okegwo and Blake give sterling support throughout on bass and drums where the pianist and tenor man are the main focus of attention. Vincent Herring says on the liner that hearing Sherman is hearing the state of New York jazz today. If so, it is a healthy sound of jazz in NYC today with a good measure of the great jazz tradition included. Good clear sound by Miles High.

Third Eye Vision; Thankful; With Freedom; Love thy Neighbour; Fanny O; My Open Heart; Transcendence; I’ll Wait And Pray (44.58)
Sam Dillon (ts); Mark Sherman (p, vib); Ugonna Okegwo (b); Johnathan Blake (d). New Jersey, 30 April 2023.
Miles High Records 8635