Smooth and urban jazz saxophonist Art Sherrod Jr grew up in Palestine, Texas surrounded by parents who made music a main part of the Sherrod household. At the age of five he was singing in the choir and at the age of thirteen Art joined the high school band and had to make a big decision, what instrument should he play? After deliberating over the idea of drums or a trumpet Art finally settled on the instrument that he thought might get the most attention of the girls and chose the saxophone. But in time he would come to realize that it was the saxophone that had chosen him and to this day his heart has been devoted to this mesmerizing instrument and the musical messages it conveys. By the time he graduated from high school he had received numerous awards and had been recognized as an All-Area, All Region and All-State Alto, Tenor and Baritone Saxophonist and was chosen as an alternate to the McDonalds All-American Band.
Aside from being in the Drum and Bugle Corps in the Naval Academy, Art’s later musical schooling came from real life experiences on the band stand and picking up ideas from his favorite artistic influences like Cannonball Adderley, Charlie Parker, Gerald Albright (bass), Kirk Whalum, Kim Waters, David Sanborn and others. Art’s profound experiences as a child, listening to his mother play organ and sing in a joyous manner, convinced him at an early age that music had the power to lift your spirits. This led him into a spiritual quest with his music. Art relocated to the Baltimore/Washington area making Maryland his home as he continued to develop as an artist, living his dream and sharing his passion for music.
In 2003, Art decided to seriously pursue a career as a solo artist. As a result, Art has been given the opportunity to perform, open or co-headline shows with Chuck Loeb, Marion Meadows, Roy Ayres, Natalie Cole, Boney James, Everette Harp, Bob Baldwin, Randy Scott, Noel Webb, Najee, Michael Henderson, Jean Carne, Cuba Gooding & the Main Ingredient and a host of others. He has also performed in the Beantown Jazz Festival in Boston, the Volvo Jazz Festival and was one of only five Americans to perform in the Brazilian-American Jazz Festival in Rio de Janeiro among other festivals. Art is just as active in his community by working with churches, the MS Society and Progressive Horizons, an organization that works with foster children and mentally and physically challenged individuals. Says Art, “It’s important to me that I share my music in ways where I can contribute to the well being of others.”
Art released a live CD and DVD project titled “Art Sherrod Jr Live” in 2004 that was quickly followed by his debut CD “All 4 Love” in 2005. “All 4 Love, ” was the vehicle that put Sherrod in the spotlight receiving positive attention and receiving comments like, “after one listen you will instantly become an Art lover” and “Art Sherrod Jr is about to become an international star.” Sherrod proves on his second CD, “Seasons, ” that he has established himself as an impressive artist with a magical style like no other. Laced with Urban Jazz, R&B, and the traditional Smooth Jazz sounds, “Seasons, ” on the Pacific Coast Jazz label, manages to bring together a “who’s who” list of great musicians Sherrod has performed with during the years including: (his mentor) Gerald Albright, Will Downing, Tracy Hamlin, Marcus Johnson, Chuck Loeb, Frank McComb, U-Nam and his long time associate and the producer of his “All 4 Love” project, Eric Valentine. According to Sherrod, “Seasons” is about the variety of changes that I went through in my life while recording this project from the end of 2006 to the middle of 2009. We all experience the differences from spring, summer, fall and winter and we realize that each season lasts for a short time and then it’s gone. Nothing lasts forever.”
Sherrod demonstrates in his new release that he really knows how to shape a myriad of moods, from his sultry “Thinking Of You, ” to the funky “Smooth Grove” and covering a silky rendition of Earth, Wind and Fire’s, “That’s the Way of the World.” Each track is an expression of Art’s heartfelt voice on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones as he creates rambunctious riffs, soulful sounds, and gorgeous grooves. “I enjoy doing music, ” says Art, “because it allows me to communicate with people physically and emotionally. I want to help people through tough times, help them to keep a positive point of view.” Sherrod’s method of communication can be heard through his music as he makes us dance in east coast style on “East Coast Steppin, ” reflect on our lives in “Everything Will Be Alright” and get us back on our feet in times of trouble on the classic Donnie McClurkin gospel tune, “We Fall Down.” According to Dennis Poole of Smooth Jazz Therapy, “Sherrod delivers a sequence of spine chilling gems… it is adequate to luxuriate in the sublime artistry his musicality so effortlessly engenders.”
Besides alto, tenor and soprano saxophone Art plays electronic wind controller (EWI) and is an artist endorser for Jody Jazz Mouthpieces, Cannonball Saxophones, Rico Reeds and Sax-Rax Saxophone Stands. He is an interactive performer who warms his audience up before, during and after performances, often sitting and talking with them following concerts. His sincere desire to “give back” to his audiences makes him an approachable artist with a generous spirit. In his own words Art declares, “I hope that my sound and music are given the opportunity to be heard throughout the world being a part of something that has the ability to touch millions of people’s hearts.” So get ready to go on a roller coaster of sonic emotions from an artist we should all keep our eyes on as he rises to the top while serenading us through the seasons.
AMT Microphone Used: S25B
New York City native Gregory Ryan has established himself as an in-demand sideman on
both acoustic and electric bass. His big supportive sound, swinging style, and complete
understanding of harmony and his role on the bandstand combine to create his ability to make even the most complex modern composition swing in the tradition of the great bass players.
At home in a variety of musical worlds — accomplished in Brazilian, Cuban, funk, and
mainstream jazz styles — he performs in festivals and concerts worldwide. Mr. Ryan has
appeared with pianists James Williams, Mulgrew Miller, and Benny Green; guitarists Jim
Hall and Pat Martino; vocalists Karrin Allyson, Peter Cincotti, and Dena DeRose; and
numerous jazz luminaries including Regina Carter, Wycliffe Gordon, Billy Harper, Tom
Harrell, and Joe Locke, among others. Mr. Ryan’s growing Latin Jazz credits include
performances with the Lincoln Center Afro-Latin Jazz Orchestra, the Chico O’Farrill Afro-
Cuban Jazz Orchestra, Arturo O’Farrill, Papo Vazquez’ Pirates Troubadours, and Bobby
Sanabria’s Quarteto Aché.
Gregory Ryan co-leads Grupo Yanqui with Bennett Paster. Calling the band “one of New
York’s best kept secrets, ” Jazz Review (UK) critic Fred Grand cited their 2008 release,
Grupo Yanqui Rides Again, among the top ten CDs of 2008. In Jazziz, Ed Kopp wrote “once
again, Paster and Ryan have seamlessly melded jazz chops with accessible Latin forms, ” and
that “Ryan more than meets the challenges confronting a Latin-jazz bassist, building a solid
foundation on every track.” In his 4.5-star review, Michael G. Nastos of All Music Guide
concluded, “No matter the criteria, this wonderful music would be difficult to nitpick, for it is
not copped, derivative, or clichéd on any but the minutest levels. Given that many artists in
recent times have mixed the Latin and jazz genres, Grupo Yanqui are not only riding high,
but also streaking ahead of similar groups.” Their 2001 self-titled debut CD skillfully
balanced original compositions by Ryan and Paster with Cuban and latin-tinged standards,
drawing from Afro-Cuban, Brazilian and American traditions and influences. All Music
Guide praised the disc’s “involved arrangements, passionate solos, and vigorous,
spontaneous interplay, all with a melodic and cosmopolitan Latin funk touch.” Grupo Yanqui
has made concert and clinic appearances from New York to California since its inception in
1998. A quartet edition of Grupo Yanqui toured as part of the U.S. State Department and
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s The Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad program in 2006,
performing and conducting workshops in Sweden, Russia, Estonia and Serbia-Montenegro.
Invisible Horizon, Mr. Ryan’s 2006 recording as a leader, is the second collaborative project
with pianist Bennett Paster and drummer Keith Hall. “There’s no wasted motion, with an
effortless, clean, smooth dynamic throughout, ” All Music Guide says of the album. The
record features original compositions by all three musicians as well as a few choice
standards. Tenor saxophonist Chris Cheek joins the trio on three tracks. This trio enjoyed
critical acclaim of their debut CD, Skyline, described by Allaboutjazz.com as “a beautifully
melodic effort, start to finish, ” praising the trio’s “relaxed, optimistic, vivacious” sound;
Modern Drummer states that the trio “radiate[s] warmth, vitality, robust melodicism, and an
Gregory Ryan uses AMT acoustic bass microphones.