Pianist John Sheridan — like most of us — is a multi-faceted personality on and off the bandstand. Musically, he can play forceful, stomping piano that elevates a band or builds up an astonishing momentum in a solo; that Sheridan in person is a man of strong opinions with a kind of amused defiance. But there’s the other Sheridan, who gets used to a new piano by playing a sweet minute of IN A MIST, who has a deep feeling for the most tender love ballads, a real romantic.
Both sides of this intriguing pianist and individual were on display in his too-brief solo recital at this year’s JAZZ AT CHAUTAUQUA.
He began with the beautiful LOVE LIES, a favorite of Ralph Sutton and Jack Teagarden:
I haven’t heard MARIA MY OWN (MARIA LA O) — an obscure song by Ernesto Lecuona, who wrote THE BREEZE AND I — for years, and I’m so happy that John plays it:
I know that MY FOOLISH HEART has deep meaning for John — in the best ways — so that even though this version began with a cheerful interruption, it never loses sight of its deep romantic center:
Time for a different kind of musing — PETE KELLY’S BLUES, which reminds me of a time and place when hot jazz could still be part of popular culture (a film, a radio series, a television show):
And finally a rollicking INDIAN LOVE CALL, as far from the warbling sweethearts as one could get: John’s tribute to the hard-driving Artie Shaw band version (with a hot Louis-flavored vocal by Tony Pastor):
We’re all complex personalities, but who among us makes as much music as John?