Music » Critics' Picks

Sherman Irby

Wednesday-Saturday, Dec. 12-15; Jazz at the Bistro


Even Sherman Irby himself would understand that a lot of folks in St. Louis don't have a very good handle on who he is. Sure, Irby has two recordings to his credit as a leader on the prestigious Blue Note label; his 1997 debut, Full Circle, and Big Mama's Biscuits, released in 1998, both garnered fine reviews. But Blue Note didn't exactly jump through hoops to promote Irby's music -- which probably explains why the Alabama-born alto sax player self-released his latest CD, Black Warrior.

Despite his relatively low media profile, you've probably heard Irby play. He's been a regular member of Roy Hargrove's quintet since 1997, and he spent three years with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra before that. Irby has also recorded and toured with the likes of Russell Gunn, Marcus Roberts, Ann Hampton Callaway, the Temptations and the Mingus Dynasty Big Band. Don't let that eclectic résumé fool you, though. Irby isn't one of those chameleonic players able to reproduce any style without developing a distinctive, identifiable sound. He understands the intricacies of bop, but his music is firmly rooted in Southern blues anproach that's reminiscent of the late Cannonball Adderley. At the age of 33, Irby has the potential to reach the same level of excellence. Catch Irby on his way up at the Bistro, in the company of longtime cohorts Gerald Cannon on bass, Willie Jones III on drums and Eric Reed on piano.

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