The steadfastly swinging pianist John Sheridan is seriously underrated because of two virtues, often misinterpreted.  John never makes what he is doing at the piano look hard; he never sweats or tells us — in words or body language — that he is Accomplishing Something Really Difficult.  No, Sheridan sits down at the piano, makes an offhanded remark or a quick joke, identifies the previous tune, gazes at the keyboard for two seconds, and then is off into another wholly realized creation.  Unless John is telling a shaggy-dog story or relating something that pleases him deeply, he also looks very serious most of the time.  That, I think, has made listeners forget that under that serious exterior there is a deep romantic soul, a very expansive heart — all of which comes through in his playing.

Sheridan’s musical scope is as broad as his mastery at the keyboard. If you listen casually, you will hear his bright clarity steady swing; listen deeper and hear subtle harmonies and his lovely but not over-elaborate improvisations, his beautiful touch.

Here is a very brief solo recital — captured at Jazz at Chautauqua (now the Allegheny Jazz Party) — a half-hour of pleasure, recorded on September 20, 2013.  Hear and admire how easily he moves from one composer to the next, one “genre” to another, always exhibiting a wonderful clarity, sounding just like John Sheridan . . . a very great gift to us.

Ellington’s BLACK BUTTERFLY (which I associate forever with Joe Thomas on a 1946 Keynote Records session):

COME BACK, SWEET PAPA (with fond thoughts of Louis’ Hot Five and,  later on, bands led by Yank Lawson and Bob Haggart):

THE LEGEND OF LONESOME LAKE (Eastwood Lane, for Bix):

IN A MIST (the young man from Davenport, himself):

THIS YEAR’S KISSES (Billie, Lester, and Irving Berlin):

I’M PUTTING ALL MY EGGS IN ONE BASKET (Mister Astaire but also Louis, twice):

Thank you, John, for inviting us to join you on these excursions.

May your happiness increase! 

5 responses to “JOHN SHERIDAN’S AMERICANA: A SOLO RECITAL (September 20, 2013)

  1. Ida Melrose Shoufler

    I have one CD by John Sheridan, given to me about 7 years ago by Hal Smith. It is one of my treasures. Listening, hoping the phone doesn’t ring. I don’t want anything to interrupt this wonderful music I am listening to. Thank you so much, NM. You knew I would love this one!!

  2. sam mckinstry

    Great to see John again! For many years the heart of the Jim Cullum band and a highly skilled and tasteful interpreter of The Great American Song Book, as the clips here show He played a knockout version of Bob Zurke’s ‘Eye Opener’ as a kindness to me at The Landing in San Antonio, as I took time out from an academic conference about ten years ago or so. Thanks for the clips.

  3. Bill Gallagher

    One of my favorite tracks on the Teddy and Lester album, Jazz Giants 1956, is “This Year’s Kisses.” It’s a lovely song and yet, it seems, it is often neglected. Thank you, John, for your beautiful interpretation.

  4. ned kerstetter

    I just noticed John’s name is not on the list of musicians for the Jazz Party for 2014. I hope you can prevail on Nancy to do her best to get John on the program. I have been enjoying John and his music since the early 90s when I began to hear him at the Landing. And I also know about John’s love of Ohio State football and shared numerous pleasant afternoons at Chautauqua watching the Buckeyes and enduring some awful moments when they didn’t do as well as expected. So use your unbounded enthusiasm and persuasion to move Nancy to have John included in the fall’s program. Thank you

  5. The list isn’t final, Ned, and some of the “missing” names are due to musicians having other gigs at that time . . . so we shall see!

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