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Canadian Heritage

John Sherwood


JOHN SHERWOOD (pianist) was born born on May 10, 1961 in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, and raised in nearby St. Catharines. His father noted his unusually keen ear for music when he was just three years old, and after a short series of tests, determined that he had been born with perfect pitch. He began formal training in classical piano at the age of five, studying exclusively with private instructors throughout the next 15 years. By the time Sherwood reached high school he was studying at an A.R.C.T. (Associates of the Royal Conservatory of Toronto) level.

When his interest in classical music began to wane, his father presented him with the challenge of playing jazz on the piano, a direction which would ultimately introduce him to the only form of music that would truly provide him with the chance to maintain the remarkable level of technique he had developed. His father brought home albums by musicians including Tete Montoliu and Clare Fischer, but it was his older brother who gave him his first Oscar Peterson recording (The Paris Concert: Pablo Live, Salle Pleyel) in 1978, marking the beginning of a new obsession for the music.

Today John Sherwood has his own sound, but Oscar Peterson’s early influence is unmistakable, ("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.")

Sherwood is recognized by his audiences and his peers as one of the top jazz pianists in Canada today. He appears regularly with vibesmaster Peter Appleyard, and has performed, toured, and/or recorded with a lengthy list of other jazz greats including Moe Koffman, Guido Basso, Kenny Wheeler, Rob McConnell, Ed Bickert, Jake Hanna, and Butch Miles. He led his own John Sherwood Trio performing during the “Sound of Toronto Jazz Series” at the Ontario Science Centre on January 5, 1987. He was also a member of the Peter Appleyard Quartet when they were featured in the “SOTJ” Concert Series on January 29, 2001.