Saxophonist Vincent Herring's new release “Night and Day” is a refreshing, upbeat album showcasing a tight and lively band that approaches each selection with an eagerness to swing. Herring is primarily (and exclusively on this date) an alto saxophone player who also picks up the soprano and tenor saxophones on occasion. He first gained prominence while playing in Nat Adderley's group where his Cannonball Adderley influenced sound fit right into the mold. That said, Herring has established his own voice over the years while playing in numerous settings as leader or accompanist. On “Night and Day”, he leads a group comprised of pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist Brandi Disherheft and drummer Joe Farnsworth. Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt also appears on six of the tracks.
The program is diverse with the quintet together for an ebullient “Grind Hog's Day”, the straight-up Herring original “The Adventures of Hyun Joo Lee”, Donald Byrd's soaring “Fly, Little Bird, Fly” and Herring's bluesy “Smoking Paul's Stash”. There's more than a little upbeat lament transpiring with the quintet on LeDonne's percolating “Walton” and the Brazilian flavored “Theme for Jobim” from the much-missed pianist Cedar Walton. Quartet numbers include Cole Porter's title track; “The Gypsy”, a ballad and “alto saxophone classic” made popular by Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt and Phil Woods; Cannonball Adderley's “Wabash” and Tex Allen's “There Is Something About You (I Don't Know)” that moves with a pretty, sensuous beat upon which Herring tells a sensitive story as LeDonne creates a nice vibe at the electric piano.
Herring's alto sound has an incisive edge and lyrical quality. He can easily slip into fluid bebop runs or get to the heart of a ballad, all the while with an uplifting voice. Pelt adds some punch to the quintet numbers with his mellow yet assertive trumpet playing. LeDonne, equally adept at both the piano and Hammond organ, is at the piano on this album and smokes. Disterheft and Farnsworth are the spot-on timekeepers and, although neither gets solo space, they are prominent throughout and integral to the music with Disterheft's resonant bass lines and Farnsworth's tasteful yet propulsive drumming.
Another score for the very active Smoke Sessions record label with its attractively packaged albums, “Night and Day” is a recording that swings like crazy, embellished with top-of-the-class soloing from the band and a great program of music that's bound to please.
Personnel: Vincent Herring: alto saxophone; Jeremy Pelt: trumpet; Mike LeDonne: piano; Brandi Disterheft: bass; Joe Farnsworth: drums
Tracks: Grind Hog's Day; Night and Day; The Adventures of Hyun Joo Lee; Walton; The Gypsy; Fly, Little Bird, Fly; Wabash; Theme for Jobim; There Is Something About You (I Don't Know); Smoking Paul's Stash