Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians
Sherman, Daryl, singer and pianist; b. Woonsocket, RI, 14 June 1949. Her father's parents were Benjamin and Sonia (Kupersmith) Sherman. Her father was Sammy Sherman (NYC, 1914-Woonsocket, 2003), former jazz trombonist in New York City during the big band era. While raising his family in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, he ran a restaurant with her brother Julius but continued to head, part-time, a trio or quartet. Music was part of the Sherman household, and the road that Daryl was to follow was already paved by Sherman footprints. Her parents were both native New Yorkers, but Sammy's father's family had moved early on to Rhode Island, where he grew up. After the war, when Sammy was playing a gig in the Catskills, (in a band that included another young musician named Cy Coleman), he met Shirley Heller, a young Hunter College student working as a waitress. A relationship developed, and Sammy and Shirley married and made their home in Rhode Island, raising four children. Shirley has passed away before Sammy. Daryl is eldest of the children. She is not the only full-time musician, since her sister, Abbe Morrongiello, plays piano, sings and teaches in New Jersey. The brothers are Benjamin and Michael.
By the time she was five, Daryl was picking out tunes on the keyboard. Even before that, she was singing. She could sing before she could talk, says family legend, and in fact, Daryl herself can remember singing, "On Top of Old 'Mokie," when she was just a tot. At age 6 or so, Daryl began formal lessons, but it was her father who formed her base of musical knowledge. Besides recordings, radio, television, and visiting musicians, there was always a keyboard in the house on which Sammy taught Daryl to form three-note chords. Daryl at piano with brother Ben playing drums and Sammy. Although she studied classical piano for many years, Daryl's love, like her dad's, was jazz and the standards. She loved finding interesting songs to play, popular songs, show tunes. Early favorite show scores included Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals, particularly, The King and I , the first Broadway show she saw and still a favorite. Daryl recalls studying the subscription music series, "Tune Dex," that featured pop songs and standards with a melody line written out and chord symbols. Later she would pour through "fake books" for new songs and arrangements to learn. As she grew older, her father let her come to the clubs and listen to his group, usually made up of guitar, trombone, drums, and piano or accordion. They played light jazz and dance sets. Her father finally began featuring her singing on his local engagements, While recognizing and encouraging his daughter's talent, Sammy was also a stern taskmaster. He urged Daryl to learn her music well and not approach it flippantly. He stressed the musical terms and discussed phrasing. When she entered high school, Daryl was active in everything musical, including the band and theater, and outside of school, she got jobs playing at events like New Years Eve parties. Moving from Woonsocket to the University of Rhode Island, she majored in Spanish, but always knew she would have a musical career. She took as many music courses as possible, performing in the chorus and jazz band and studying piano. She listened to jazz musicians like Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, and another Rhode Island pianist, Dave McKenna. All influenced her musical tastes, but when she heard Mildred Bailey's smooth easy style, she found a favorite. She also loves Julie Andrews, Doris Day, as well as Lady Day, Rosemary Clooney, and Joe Williams and others from all over the spectrum.
In 1974, Daryl was off to start her career in New York. She met up with other musicians, including Dave McKenna, the jazz pianist from her hometown. One of her first jobs was at Jilly's , a West 52nd Street nightclub owned by Frank Sinatra's pal, which offered a jazz-influenced trio until almost dawn. McKenna was then a regular at Michael's Pub, where she sat in with him and other notables such as Red Norvo, Bobby Hackett, Hank Jones and Milt Hinton. Another legendary bassist, George Duvivier and singer Sylvia Syms also had great influence on her development. Her knowledge of musical history grew after she came to New York. She developed an affinity for one of the first lady pianists, Ramona Davies, who played with the Paul Whiteman's Band and appeared in a few movies. Daryl still goes back to the early '20's and '30's music for her own listening pleasure. Her singing influences remain Mildred Bailey, as well as Sylvia Syms, who became a good friend and mentor, and Daryl has a great respect for Blossom Dearie. When Artie Shaw formed a new band after his 25-year retirement, Daryl Sherman was his singer of choice. She also performed with re-creations of the Paul Whiteman and Ray Noble bands, as well as the American Jazz Orchestra and WDR Jazz Orchestra of Germany. She's a regular at St. Peter's Citicorps' Midday Jazz. She's also participated in the Vineyard Theater's Vintage Jazz series, WNYC's New York Cabaret Nights and has been a featured guest on Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz (most recent show, a Peggy Lee tribute) and Fresh Air with Terry Gross all broadcast nationally. She regularly performs on Cole Porter's Steinway at the Waldorf Astoria and is also recently lauded for her appearance at the Algonquin's Famous Oak Room. Rave revues for her shows at London's Pizza On The Park and Chamaleon Variete in Berlin attest to her growing popularity abroad. Equally at home in the worlds of jazz and cabaret, Daryl Sherman's recordings have received high critical praise. Major jazz festival appearances include JVC in New York and Newport, Atlanta, Scotland, Wales, Blackpool, and aboard the QE2. She's a favorite at Pace University's (Highlights In Jazz), theMabel Mercer Foundation Cabaret Conventions in NYC (recently cited with the Cabaret ClassicAward) and Chicago, the 92nd St Y, and Lincoln Center's Mid Summer Night Swing. She's performed and recorded with an array of jazz notables including Dave McKenna, Dick Hyman, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Kenny Davern, Houston Person, Jay Leonhart, Boots Maleson, James Chirillo, Joe Cohn, Warren Vache, Ken Peplowski, Joe Temperley and Gene Bertoncini. Daryl Sherman has also headlined at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C., the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, Toulouse Cognac Bar in Chicago, The Colony in Palm Beach, Top Of The Senator in Toronto and Asper Jazz Foundation in Winnipeg. Throughout the 90s father and daughter reunited to perform a series of concerts at New England jazz mecca, Chan's in Woonsocket, RI with stellar guests including Howard Alden, Frank Tate, Dick Sudhalter, Dan Barrett, Warren Vache and singer Jean Mc Kenna -O' Donnell, (sister of Dave McKenna).
A Hundred Million Miracles; Born to Swing; Daryl Sherman and Dave McKenna: Jubilee; Look What I Found (1997); A Lady Must Live (1998); A Celebration of Mildred Bailey and Red Norvo; I've Got My Fingers Crossed -- Tribute to Jimmy McHugh; Getting Some Fun Out of Life; I'm A Dreamer, Aren't We all?; She's A Great, Great Girl
Ronny Whyte: Thanks For the Memory; Dick Sudhalter: Friends with Pleasure; Ruth Warrick: Phoebe Tyler Regrets; Maya the Bee: A children's story set to music by Nancy Harrow, Daryl's voice is heard as Maya the Bee.
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