We who sing in the BCCO chorus are very observant when it comes to our rehearsal pianists. We have been so fortunate over the years and now is no exception when it comes to our accompanist, Jason Sherbundy. I had not met Jason up close until we sat down together in preparation for this sketch. What I saw was a face so open and youthful looking that I was shocked to hear Jason’s age: 42!
Jason has already had a long, varied, and impressive career in music, both as a pianist and as a conductor, arranger, vocal coach, and many other roles. He appeared in orchestras on Broadway with well-known shows like The Lion King, Catch Me if You Can, and Porgy and Bess. He can be heard in the new cast recordings of A Chorus Line and Catch Me if You Can. For a comprehensive listing of Jason’s accomplishments please see his bio on the BCCO website.
After a decade or so, Jason became tired of the peripheral “stuff” associated with a career in Broadway musicals and touring musical productions. He returned to California. Here he is associated with many orchestras, opera companies, jazz performers, and rehearsal situations around the greater Bay Area.
Jason was an only child whose father was a pressman. His mother was a stay home mom for his first 10 years, which turned out to be fortuitous in placing opportunities in his path, including sports and music. The family lived in McKinleyville until Jason was about 8 years old, then move to even smaller Forestville, where his high school, El Molina High, was named a California Distinguished School. Jason’s parents are retired now and have relocated to the big island of Hawaii. Living in two small towns in Sonoma County allowed Jason to experience being a “big fish.”
As with other sketches I’ve written, I wanted to know if Jason had been a prodigy. Like the others, he denied that label but admitted something remarkable had happened at a very early age, which highlighted his musical aptitude. His event occurred when he was four and a half years old. His family visited friends who had an organ that played itself by way of inserted discs that also caused the keys to light up, corresponding with the music. Although he was known to be an active kid up to that point, he sat at the organ for hours, mesmerized, learning how the music could be played. After that, he was given piano lessons in a group setting. Very soon the teacher told his parents that he was too talented for the group setting and needed to be taught at his own speed. Soon he outgrew his first teacher. This is a story we have heard before, and it fills me with awe each time.
Jason named his high school band teacher as the most inspirational influence in his early exposure to music, when he played flute in the band, piano in the jazz band, and sang in the choir.
He attended college at Sonoma State largely because he had been playing jazz in clubs around northern California, and had met jazz bassist, Mel Graves, who invited him to attend the jazz program. Throughout his time at Sonoma State, his jazz piano teacher was the influential musician and teacher Mark Levine.
On the more personal side, Jason lives in Santa Cruz with his long time girlfriend who is a holistic nutritionist and manages a chiropractic office. He practices meditation daily, both alone and with a longstanding group in Santa Cruz. He told me that he now cares most about living a balanced life, with relationships, including attention to his parents, meditation, and music all in balance.
My last image from rehearsal Monday night was seeing Jason putting on a helmet and jumping on a motorcycle, presumably headed back to Santa Cruz at 10 pm. How many of us would want to call out to him to be careful!