DATE: Saturday July 25th, 2015
STAGE: Simcoe Park, NOTL, ON
ADDRESS: Picton St, Niagara-on-the-Lake, ON L0S 1T0
TIME: 2:30 PM – 3:15 PM

John Sherwood (piano)
Randy Stirtzinger (bass)
Kevin Lipischak (drums)
Bill Melymuka (trumpet)
Alistair Robertson (saxophone)

We will be playing swing music from the 30s and 40s as accompaniment for a group of swing dancers!

Born in Oakville Ontario in 1961, raised in St. Catharines, John Sherwood started his formal training at the age of five.  At age three his father discovered he had an unusually keen ear for music and began a short series of tests to confirm he had been born with perfect pitch.  This would for the most part prove to be a great asset later on as John listened to what other pianists were doing in jazz following his classical studies.

His formal (classical) piano training came entirely in the form of private instruction by several teachers throughout the fifteen years and by the time John reached high school he was studying at an A.R.C.T. (Associates of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto) level.  As many of his classmates listened to popular music on the radio, John was being exposed to a variety of music at home.  His brothers and sisters were all playing the piano as well as other instruments and his father, accepting John’s fading interest in classical music, presented him with the challenge of playing jazz on the piano.  This indeed was the only form of music that would truly challenge John to maintain the level of technique he had developed. His father was also aware of the benefits of maintaining the practice routine to help John’s discipline in other areas.  He also could see the confidence level enhanced as this new music began to come out.  John was playing more easily in front of people.

Although John’s dad started the ball rolling, bringing home albums by Tete Montoliu and Clare Fischer, it was his older brother who gave him the first Oscar Peterson recording in 1978.  (“The Paris Concert”   Pablo Live,  Salle Pleyel, 1978)  This would mark a whole new obsession for the music.  John began transcribing what would be many pages of Peterson’s work from this and other albums. Few people have attempted this as it presents technical hurdles that few can overcome, not to mention the many hours of work listening, writing and analyzing.  “The Paris Concert” is an excellent cross section sampler of the many trademarks we associate with Oscar Peterson such as stride, boogie woogie and delicately voiced ballads.

Today John Sherwood has his own sound. You will not hear as many of the O.P. lines and runs when he sits down to play, but the influence is unmistakable. John was able to look beyond the blinding technique and blistering tempos and realize what makes any piano player great: Touch. The way the note is articulated is what makes it special. “I’ve merely scratched the surface on a few areas of Peterson’s work, but those few areas dominate my way of thinking about the piano. Always. Even when I’m not playing in that style. The classical background is essential in developing touch, tone and technique. In jazz, it’s the rhythm. Once you have that rhythmic concept, the rest falls into place.”