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June 2006

Vincent Herring
Ends and Means
HighNote Records

This is a thoroughly enjoyable record: memorable melodies, a top-notch rhythm section and a saxophonist who plays his instrument like a man who’s having a good time. Vincent Herring was a protégé of Nat Adderley, and you can hear Cannonball in Herring’s nice round tone and soulful approach.

A solid piece of postbop starts things off with the title track, written by a former Herring sideman. Herring is jubilant, playing with optimism over a light, airy rhythm section. He gets into a funky groove on “Tom Tom,” one of two tunes contributed by drummer Joris Dudli, a hip-hop-influenced player who drops out the snare here and there in favor of the kick drum. Bassist Essiet Essiet, miked extremely well, turns in a terrific solo on “Tom Tom,” thwacking the heck out of the strings and eliciting a nice wood sound.

Guest trumpeter Jeremy Pelt offers strong, confident playing on four of the disc’s eight tracks, and pianist Danny Grissett performs a wonderfully imaginative solo on Benny Golson’s “Stable Mates,” a sultry piece of latenight jazz. The band does a driving version of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood,” and a slinky, 11-minute take of “Caravan” closes the album. One tiny criticism: Herring could have done without the fadeouts. They’re fine for pop songs. In jazz, they’re a lazy substitute for concluding a tune.

Originally published in June 2006
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