Recorded at Knoop Music, River Edge, NJ, June 2005.
For this 2005 studio session, Vincent Herring switches to a rhythm section (pianist Danny Grissett, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Joris Dudli) that he had previously worked with exclusively in Europe. Renato Chicco, Herring's former pianist, contributed the upbeat opener, "Ends and Means," showcasing the leader and Grissett. Dudli contributed the funky "Tom Tom" (featuring Essiet) and the driving "Thoughts," the latter showcasing the leader's powerful soprano sax, with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (who appears on half of the tracks) adding an excellent muted solo. The funky adaptation of Benny Golson's "Stable Mates" takes it in a new direction, while Duke Ellington's "Caravan" is easily transformed into a powerful hard bop vehicle. Jazz musicians have been covering tunes from the vast Beatles songbook for decades, but Herring's breezy adaptation of "Norwegian Wood" almost suggests a Scottish flavor, with the spotlight upon Grissett's inventive solo.
All Music Guide
Ends and Means is Vincent Herring's fourth CD as a leader on the HighNote label. Where Herring once sounded like Cannonball Adderley, he has developed his own distinctive sound over the years, whether on alto or soprano. Herring was one of the young lions of the '80s and early '90s (although unfortunately underrated) and has matured into a respected leader in mainstream jazz. He now seems to be discovering and employing the new generation of young lions, including this time around trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (on four cuts) and pianist Danny Grissett.
The date includes the classic "Caravan, plus some two modern standards, Mulgrew Miller's "Wingspan" and Benny Golson's "Stable Mates, and Lennon and McCartney's "Norwegian Wood. Drummer Joris Dudli contributed two compositions. Dudli's playing provides a driving theme on the date, standing out especially in the give and take he has with Herring on "Caravan.
The set begins with the title track, which was composed by former Herring pianist Renato Chicco. Herring gets the affair started with some fiery playing, and given that the tune was composed by a pianist, it is only fitting that Grissett steps forward and shines, as he does on most of the tracks. He is clearly a young player to watch. Irving Berlin's "The Song Is Ended marks Pelt's first appearance. His fluid tone meshes perfectly with Herring's playing, making me wish he was on board for more than just four tracks.
"Wingspan is the name of Mulgrew Miller's ensemble and a classic bop tune. Miller and Herring have played on each other's records in the past and are part of the same generation of jazz musicians. This track, the highlight on this session, is given a royal treatment by Herring and Pelt, who soar in unison before taking up-tempo solos. They catch their breath while the rhythm section steps forward to keep things going. The song concludes with Herring and Pelt coming together again for one last dance.
While everyone in the band has a chance to shine, this is still clearly Herring's show. And Ends And Means is another excellent addition to his growing catalogue as a leader in the world of modern mainstream jazz.
- Edward Zucker