Vincent Herring & Earth Jazz
Alto saxophonist Vincent Herring was just 16 when, in 1981, he enrolled as a freshman at Chico State. Amazingly proficient at that young age, he captured everyone’s attention with his awesome bebop chops at the University’s Jazz Ensembles’ concerts as well as at gigs around town in company with such local musicians as guitarist Charlie Robinson, tenor saxist/bassist Greg D’Augelli and drummer Dan Kinkle. A year later he moved to New York and, after playing on the streets, ultimately wound up in cornetist Nat Adderley’s Quintet replacing his late brother, alto man Cannonball Adderley, for several years before going out on his own. He now has 17 albums as a leader to his credit, including two others with this group. Herring had fallen off my radar some years ago, so when I requested this CD for review I thought I’d get an earful of his powerful, bebop-influenced playing. Nope—not even close. Getting through the disc, which the liner notes accurately describe as being “knee-deep in mid ’70s funk-jazz,” was a major chore as I’m not a fan of this genre. Obviously there’s a new audience for Herring’s new (to me) musical direction but, except for Mulgrew Miller’s lilting “Soul Leo,” I found the music flaccid and eminently forgetful.