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Manhattan Projects: We Remember Cannonball

There’s a story that Vincent Herring, then an unknown alto saxophonist, walked up to Nat Adderley one night on the bandstand and said, “I know all of Cannonball’s solos.” This led to an eight-year stint (1987-’95) with the cornet-playing younger brother of the late Julian “Cannonball” Adderley. This has been the strongest association in Herring’s career, a link perpetuated by this album, recorded in 1994.

Nat, still wily (although not in the best of chops), appears on a couple of tracks, but otherwise the brass duties belong to a fiery Nicholas Payton on trumpet. The rhythm section of Xavier Davis (piano), Ben Wolfe (bass), and Carl Allen (drums) is a grooving, often bluesy one, especially in view of Cannonball’s legacy of uptempo playing and rhythmic diversity. Mark Turner (tenor saxophone) fills out the horn section on three tracks and, like several of his contemporaries, suggests the boldness of Joe Lovano and Joe Henderson.

As for Herring, he is not a copy but a spirited reminder. Tunes include Sam Jones’ “Del Sasser,” Bobby Timmons’ “This Here” and “Dat Dere,” Nat’s pretty “Naturally,” Cannonball’s gospel-tinged “Things Are Getting Better,” and a pair of standards and a pair of tunes from “Fiddler On The Roof.” If you dig Herring and music associated with Cannonball, you’ll dig this uplifting tribute.

Originally Published