Review of "Suitable Benchmarks of Reform" in All About Jazz, December 27, 2021

Multi-reedist [Collin] Sherman's thirteenth album, Suitable Benchmarks Of Reform, was made from the same template from which his previous twelve releases came into being—recording alone in his New York City apartment, recording the individual parts then layering each onto the next to make an ensemble sound. . . . Call it free jazz. As Sherman is primarily a saxophonist, there is a good deal of honking and squawking going on—especially with the first three tunes, with various reeds squalling along with electronic embellishments, percussion and keyboard parts. Improvisation is front and center, in Sherman's ongoing search for truth and beauty. 'Phalanx Strictures,' 'Rival Machinations' and 'Worthless Objects And Photographs Thereof' seem to express a state of unsettlement and psychological turbulence. The four part 'Rumination Suite' is a different matter. Representing an arc of burgeoning self awareness, each piece is built around the soprano saxophone and the bass tongue drum—and for those not familiar with the instrument, it is not played with the tongue, it is rather a drum, metal or wood, featuring 'tongues' carved into its surface that, when struck, present different tones. In Sherman's hands, on the suite, it sounds like God's heartbeat, an underlying and immutable truth that serves as a spiritual foundation for a tranquil soundtrack to human existence, brought into being in a small NYC apartment. Hopefully, the neighbors are listening. ★★★★☆” - Dan McClenaghan

All About Jazz

Review of "Suitable Benchmarks of Reform" in The Answer Is In The Beat, January 12, 2022

On his 13th album, New York’s Collin Sherman continues performing as a virtual band, layering synths, horns, guitars, and drums played entirely by himself. Making more usage of modular synths than was noticeable on his previous album, opener 'Phalanx Strictures' rolls along with a melodic sequence set in 15/4 time, providing a framework for Sherman’s freewheeling solos. 'Rival Machinations' is entirely improvised, however, and sounds totally unhinged, with drums flailing and alto sax careening outward rather than focusing on a recognizable melody. Additionally, the piece incorporates MIDI prepared piano, which sounds stark and percussive. 'Worthless Objects and Photographs Thereof' feels more stripped-down and acoustic, consisting mostly of hand percussion and woodwinds, although a glowing synth bassline glues the song together; altogether, it feels like music fit for a thorough investigation scene. The remainder of the album is given over to the four-part 'Rumination Suite', which takes its time to gradually develop, intriguingly built on slow beats on a MIDI tongue drum, resembling an electronic stone object. There’s surf/western-style guitar riffs on 'Faults and Missteps', while 'Things Turn Around' is sparse and suspenseful, with some strange resonations. Finally, 'Foundations of Serenity' is a piano-driven processional with an erupting sax solo near the end.”

The Answer Is In The Beat

Review of "Suitable Benchmarks of Reform" in Jazz Weekly, February 14, 2022

Best known for his alto sax work, Collin Sherman goes it all alone in painting a thick tapestry with instruments including (deep breath) Bb soprano clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, keyboards, synthesizers, electric guitar and drum programming. Talk about social distancing! The sonic result is seven tunes, ranging from 7-11 minutes, with the five movement 'Rumination Suite' the centerpiece of the album. The Opus is supported mostly by a plodding and trudging drum beat, sometimes accompanied by piano, with some twangy Link Wray guitar work on the prismatic 'Faults and Missteps', long tones and bag pipe sounds on the spacey 'Things Turn Around' and a dark, dank death march with piano and keys carrying the corpse on 'Foundations of Serenity'. There’s an alluring brooding bass clarinet with some synth pulse and a Middle Eastern lilt to 'Worthless Objects and Photographs Thereof' and the drums rumble under the thick reeds like magma on 'Rival Machinations' and the rockish swing of 'Phalanx Structures'. Structures of solitude.” - George W. Harris

Jazz Weekly

Review of "Suitable Benchmarks of Reform" in Roots Music Report, February 18, 2022

With his 13th album, Suitable Benchmarks Of Reform released in late 2021, multi-instrumentalist Collin Sherman is set to breakout big time. Renowned for his Free-Jazz and Avant-garde jazz albums, Collin’s latest follows his earlier musical inclinations and the result is a somewhat disquieting yet thought-provoking set of contemporary jazz. In the spirit of the far-out sax sounds of Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman and Rahsaan Roland Kirk before him, Collin excites the auditory senses with Suitable Benchmarks. Considering some of this album’s more neo-romantic ideas, I could even see Benny Goodman fans liking this. The album-opening nearly 11-minute opening track 'Phalanx Strictures' (performed in 15/4 rhythm) features a mix of soprano sax and bass and b-flat clarinet melodies enhanced by a range of keyboards, synths and drum programming. With Collin performing, composing, producing, mixing and playing all the instruments, Suitable Benchmarks Of Reform is cutting-edge stuff and, being all-instrumental in nature, the music leaves a lot of room for the musical imagination. There is harmony and structure here but above all a sense of free musical exploration prevails. Even though the sax and clarinets takes up much of the spotlight, keyboard synths, vibraphone and even electric guitar sounds punctuate the sound spectrum adding a kind of progressive sound. If it all seems rather random and decomposed, that’s probably because the best freeform jazz is mostly based on experimental and spontaneous improvisation, yet Collin’s instrumentals hold together in a web of sonic elegance. Suitable Benchmarks Of Reform might be a far cry from traditional jazz, contemporary jazz and jazz-rock fusion, yet the thought-provoking sounds keeps the listener fixed on some of the most remarkable horn-based, free-form jazz instrumentals being made today. With his earlier albums featuring titles like Indeterminate (2014), Static (2012), Accompaniments For Sparse Rhythms (2015) and Violence Of Faction (2018), to name just a few, Collin Sherman’s 13th album Suitable Benchmarks Of Reform is a major addition to free-form, avant-garde jazz. ★★★★☆” - Robert Silverstein

Roots Music Report

Review of "Suitable Benchmarks of Reform" in Off Topic Magazine, February 22, 2022 (translated from original Italian in Google Chrome)

The young American jazz player with this work reaches its thirteenth publication always using the same method: playing all the instruments alone, that is: alto sax, soprano sax; clarinet, bass clarinet, oboe, keyboards, synthesizer, electric guitar, drums and, of course, electronics. Collin Sherman is a very 'technical' and methodical artist and even the notes accompanying the disc are a small treatise on musical technique which, in hindsight, seems to leave no room for any smudging. It is all very well described, organized, planned and consequently executed. . . . It is precisely in this very technical operation that Collin Sherman's genius is fully manifested, since it is one thing to theorize and one thing is to do. But if, as an old forgotten philosopher, a certain Karl Marx from Trier, said, 'the greatness of an idea is manifested in its feasibility', it must be admitted that on this Sherman keeps what he promises. . . . Collin Sherman is young and despite the fact that, as we recalled at the beginning, he already has thirteen recordings behind him, he has a career as a composer ahead of him, which given the premises, could be very interesting and profitable.” - Mario Grella

Off Topic Magazine

Review of "Arc of a Slow Decline" in All About Jazz, November 8, 2020

[S]ometimes a musician just has to go it alone and—in this technological age that allows such things—the recording then collaging and layering of sounds creates an ensemble work. . . . With the release of his eleventh album, Arc Of A Slow Decline, New York-based Collin Sherman has turned this mode of operation into a high, fine art. . . . There is a dichotomy at work here. On the one hand, Arc Of A Slow Decline's approach seems to have a surface simplicity, making it immediately engaging; on another, there's a feeling that it contains a sublime underlying intent, a beauty within the freedom. ★★★★☆” - Dan McClenaghan

All About Jazz

Review of "Arc of a Slow Decline" in The Answer Is In The Beat, January 12, 2021

New York-based jazz musician Collin Sherman is essentially a virtual band, recording improvised multi-tracked pieces with the discipline of a full ensemble. His twelfth album is a double-disc set, with the first containing lengthy pieces filled with sax and clarinet solos and modular synthesizers, although the electronic elements aren’t always obvious unless you’re paying close attention. Vibraphones give opener 'Prey Upon the Flock' a bit of a loungey feel, and other moments sort of touch on klezmer, although maybe my brain is just programmed to think 'klezmer' whenever I hear jazz clarinet. 'Sycophant Parade' is less melodic and more ominous than other tracks on the first disc, but overall, these pieces are structured enough so that the improvisations coherently follow a guided path, and it’s not free jazz cacophony. After the raucous 'Federal Occupation' ends the first half of the album, the second disc is starker and less rhythmic, usually just focusing on naked soloing and patient but less commanding drumming, with some synth textures contributing to the atmosphere. Two pieces include bowed gamelan in their instrument lists, with 'Caesium Sculptures' being a swampy collage of strange plucks and burbles. 'Sequestration Blues' brings back the drums, and is kind of a sleazy, untethered swing tune, and the concluding 'Polar Ticks' is a mellow lament with vibraphone, although it rumbles a bit more towards the end.”

The Answer Is In The Beat