WBGO Radar

Vincent Herring: "Night And Day"

saxophonist vincent herring

When it comes to melodic improvisation in hard bop, alto saxophonist Vincent Herring is as good as it gets. Night and Day showcases his talents in an ideal setting.

Recorded at New York’s Sear Sound Studio, the album captures Vincent's fire and energy of the bandstand. Not easy. How do you do it? Start with the drums.

Take Joe Farnsworth, set him behind a kit. Ignite.

Add Mike LeDonne on piano, throw Brandi Disterheft’s bass into the mix. Now turn the metronome up past one hundred and sixty clicks. Keep it lyrical. Got it?

These guys have got it, and then some.

Herring shares the front line on the album’s ten tracks with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt. The pair are well-matched, with an affinity honed through years of work together in the The Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band.

Relaxed, impossibly clean lines tumble out of their horns, shifting from swift cascades of ideas into lengths of melody, then back again. LeDonne moves back and forth in phrasing with equal ease.

Farnsworth, on the album’s opener, “Grind Hog’s Day,” sets the scene: swing it, keep it hot. Never below a low boil.

LeDonne’s “Walton” is one of two tracks on the album that honor Cedar Walton, who passed away in 2013; Herring played with the pianist for twenty years.

“All of us are Cedar’s musical children,” says Herring. “I wish we could have played this one for him.”

Walton’s own “Theme For Jobim” celebrates another of Herring’s heroes, Brazilian pianist Antonio Carlos Jobim. Like the album’s title track, “Jobim” focuses its Latin inspirations through the lens of hard swing.

Donald Byrd’s “Fly, Little Bird, Fly” is the album’s most blistering showcase for the talents of Pelt and Herring, while Cannonball Adderley’s “Wabash” eases us back into the blues.

“The Gypsy” may be a ballad, but it never slows the flow of Herring and LeDonne’s ideas.  Tex Allen’s “There Is Something About You” features LeDonne on Fender Rhodes, in a slow, samba-ish setting.

The album’s closer, “Smoking Paul’s Stash,” is an on-fire ode to something other than vaping, I presume.

Night and Day comes out on Smoke Sessions May 12.

  - Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer

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