Is this disc’s title an apropos description of the current era, with its semi-permanent malaise, and anger seemingly just below the surface of all public discourse? Maybe. Vincent Herring’s response: Gather like-minded musicians and make a joyful noise with a set of muscular blues-tinted jazz.
Much of Hard Times feels like a natural extension of the soul-jazz/hard-bop approach Herring’s been perfecting since playing with the likes of Nat Adderley, Art Blakey and Horace Silver. The project unofficially had its genesis in six months of Monday-night gigs the saxophonist played with bassist Yasushi Nakamura and drummer Carl Allen at Smoke in Manhattan. For the CD, they’re joined by Cyrus Chestnut on piano and Fender Rhodes, with guest-shots by guitarist Russell Malone and several horn players.