Photo from vincentherring.com
Vincent Herring Quartet
(Ronnie Scott’s. 5 February 2018. Review by Frank Griffith)
The Vincent Herring Quartet exploded into Ronnie Scotts on Monday 5 February for the the first of a two-night stand at Soho’s jazz temple celebrating its 59th year.
The set featured two lesser-known Freddie Hubbard gems, Hard Times, a soul classic popularised by Ray Charles and Bayonne Vibe, a refreshing original by the band’s drummer, Joris Dudli. In addition to the leader’s powerful and blinding alto sax, Dave Kikoski handled the keyboards chores sliding equally from piano to Fender Rhodes. Veteran NYC bassist Essiet Okon Essiet, held down his chair with steadfast aplomb.
The highlight for me was Bayonne Vibe a harmonically rich medium funk loper that brought echoes of mid 1970s Herbie Hancock and The Crusaders themes. Bayonne refers to a town in New Jersey where Vince lived for a while.
A stunning arrangment of Hubbard’s Suite Sioux with a brief but bracing double time swing section in each chorus. Herring’s mastery of fleet fingered runs coupled with his propulsive melodic vocabulary was impressive and engaging indeed.
The leader’s detailed but laconically delivered announcements were welcome nonetheless. He told of how privileged he was to appear with the late David Newman at Lincoln Center in NYC just before the ex-Ray Charles tenorist passed away. He then performed a heartfelt tribute rendition of Paul Mitchell’s “Hard Times” which delighted the sold out house to great end.
A brief set to be sure (keeping in with Ronnies’ occasional policy to have two shorter sets of the main act) but a full and whole course of top international sounds.