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Vincent Herring: Mr. Wizard

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Vincent Herring’s third album for HighNote demonstrates once again the altoist/sopranoist’s prodigious skill as an improviser in the hard bop/modal tradition. A follower of Cannonball Adderley who’s managed to forge a personal style out of that and other influences, Herring possesses a virtuoso technique and an acute ear that allow him to execute long, melodically and rhythmically complex lines without missing a note or a beat. And his full, expressive tone permits him to render the slower tunes with grace and feeling.

Joining Herring on his latest CD are his regular drummer and bassist, E.J. Strickland and Richie Goods as well as sometime partner Jeremy Pelt on trumpet and relative newcomer Danny Grissett on piano. Like the leader, each is exceptional, with Pelt continuing to impress with his absorption of Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. Since two of the rhythm players are regulars, they know just how to relate to Herring, and Grissett fits in admirably. Although the repertoire sounds at times as if it might have come from the 1960s and ’70s, the performers composed all but three selections; Grissett and Pelt contributed two and Goods and Herring one each. They range from Horace Silver-like hard bop to open-sounding atmospheric tunes to “Citizen of Zamunda,” inspired by an African island.