Vincent Herring American Experience

September 1988: it’s after-hours at the Chicago Jazz Festival. As usual, out-of-town players have assembled at the Jazz Showcase for an organized jam. One night, no less than a dozen saxophonists hit the bandstand. Each sits in for a tune or two, blows a few choruses, and then makes way for the next. They’re good - but in a festival week crammed with fine performances, none of these jousters really grabs the ear. Not until this alto player gets up. From his opening chorus, he’s blowing so much saxophone that conversations stop. In one corner of the room, visiting critics start turning to each other to ask, "Where’d he come from?" "New York", a scribe from back east says, grinning like he’s going to share a secret. "That’s Vincent Herring."


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Vincent Herring – Alto sax, soprano sax
Dave Douglas – Trumpet
Bruce Barth – Piano
James Genus – Bass
Mark Johnson – Drums 
Tex Allen – Trumpet
Clifford Adams – Trombone
John Hicks – Piano
Marcus McLauren – Bass
Beaver Harris - Drums 
Rodney Jones is added on guitar on track 2.
Monte Croft is added on vibes on track 5 and vocals on Track 10. 
Tracks 1,2,4,5,6,9&10 were recorded with the first personnel list in October 1989. 
Tracks 3,7&8 were recorded with the second personnel list in April 1986.


"Vincent has learned from all who went before and learned it well..."

Vincent Herring is the latest in a long line of alto sax players to strike a new path for jazz. Interestingly Vincent has brought with him something of most of his predecessors - from Charlie Parker to Cannonball Adderley - and then added the Vincent Herring ingredient. He has an immediately identifiable style and terrific drive as well as great creativity and a freshness of approach. I have heard records he has made since this date and he gets better and better!  

On this particular record he is in great company. The rhythm sections from both sessions are great and both Dave Douglas and Tex Allen on trumpet fit the leader’s style very well. The compositions come from other contemporary players as well as from members of the group. Sweet Georgia Bright from Charles Lloyd and Peace from Horace Silver would class as jazz standards. The original compositions are great; I have often complained that jazz CDs are full of tunes that you will never hear again after that particular CD, but these are all worthwhile. 

I am a little confused as to why two sessions, three years apart where only the leader is the common player, should be mixed together, but as the music is all so good, I guess it doesn’t matter. 

Like all the greatest players, Vincent Herring always has the capacity to surprise the listener. I have always admired Phil Woods: the element of surprise has always been present in his playing. In many ways there is a similarity in their approach to jazz, which fits well with my suggestion that Vincent has learned from all who went before and learned it well, but that is his launch base. 

Don Mather,

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