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John Sheridan Trio: Artistry 3

Sheridan, former pianist with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band in San Antonio, has a light, Teddy Wilson touch. His phrases glide and occasionally stride, and there is an emphasis on swing and melodic continuity. The trio album celebrates American popular song: “It’s Been So Long,” “I’m Glad There Is You,” “Soon,” “Wonder Why,” “Change Partners,” etc. The playing by Sheridan, bassist David Stone and drummer Tony DeNicola should please the composers. The group is faithful to the original harmonies, and the melody line of each tune is clearly and gracefully articulated. The group swings hardest on “Wonder Why,” “I’ll Always Be in Love with You” and “I Never Knew.”

As tasteful as the trio album is, the Dream Band disc is more enjoyable because it features Sheridan’s writing for an octet: four horns and four rhythm, plus singer Rebecca Kilgore. This fourth Dream Band CD echoes various small groups led by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, John Kirby and Benny Goodman, for example. On Bob Dorough’s “Devil May Care” the ensemble has a ’50s, West Coast quality. Ellington’s “Morning Glory” features Ron Hockett’s lovely clarinet work. Scott Robinson, sticking exclusively to tenor saxophone on this disc, covers tenor history in his solos, from Bud Freeman (detected in “I’m Sitting on Top of the World”) to Joe Lovano (heard among Robinson’s Lester Young-isms in “The Gypsy”).

Randy Reinhart’s Bobby Hackett-inspired cornet and Russ Phillips’ trombone take good care of the brass work. In the rhythm section, Sheridan, guitarist Bob Leary, bassist Phil Flanigan and drummer Joe Ascione take care of business in a swinging, supportive, unobtrusive way. Kilgore sounds fine, even more so surrounded by Sheridan’s charts.

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