Sherman Irby was born and raised in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He found his musical calling at age 12. In high school, he played and recorded with gospel immortal James Cleveland. He graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a B.A. in Music Education. In 1991 he joined Johnny O’Neal’s Atlanta based quintet. In 1994 he moved to New York City then recorded his first two albums, Full Circle (1996) and Big Mama’s Biscuits (1998), on Blue Note. Irby toured the U.S. and the Caribbean with the Boys Choir of Harlem in 1995, and was a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra from 1995 to 1997. During that tenure, he also recorded and toured with Marcus Roberts, was part of Betty Carter’s Jazz Ahead Program and Roy Hargrove’s groups. After a four-year stint with Roy Hargrove, Irby focused on his own group in addition to being a member of Elvin Jones’ ensemble and Papo Vazquez’s Pirates Troubadours. Since 2003 Irby has been the regional director for JazzMasters Workshop, mentoring young children, and a board member for the CubaNOLA Collective. He formed Black Warrior Records and released Black Warrior, Faith, Organ Starter, and Live at the Otto Club under the new label.
Sherman Irby Quintet: The Music of Art Blakey