Vincent Herring & Something Else – Soul Jazz – Smoke Sessions Records

by | Jun 20, 2024 | Jazz CD Reviews | 0 comments

A dream soul jazz group…No doubt!

Vincent Herring & Something Else – Soul Jazz – Smoke Sessions Records #SSR-2403 – 55:10 – *****

(Vincent Herring – alto sax; Jeremy Pelt – trumpet; Wayne Escoffery – tenor sax; Paul Bollenback – guitar; David Kikoski – piano; Essiett Essiett – bass; Otis Brown III – drums)

It is so easy to love Soul jazz as a jazz genre. It combines a strong bass line, a steady groove, and with the addition of horns, it often morphs into hard bop, with influences from gospel, blues, and R&B. Proponents of this style include Stanley Turrentine, Cannonball Adderley, and Horace Silver.

Alto saxophonist, Vincent Herring, shares his love of this genre, with a super group, based in New York, that he calls, Something Else!. Made up of the best of first call musicians, all who are capable of leading their own groups. His front line mates are trumpeter, Jeremy Pelt, and tenor saxist, Wayne Escoffery. The rhythm section boasts pianist, David Kikoski; guitarist Paul Bollenback (who was featured for many years with the late Hammond B-3 organist, Joey DeFrancesco); bassist, Essiett Essiett; and drummer, Otis Brown III.

Song list is heavy on soul jazz standards from the likes of Horace Silver, Eddie Harris, Donald Byrd, Stanley Turrentine, and Pee Wee Ellis. The arrangements swing, the horns blend sweetly, and there are solos a plenty.

Recorded on a single afternoon in Feb. 2024 at the Smoke Jazz Club, these gentlemen play together like a finely hand machined watch. No new ground is covered, but this is musical manna from heaven for soul jazz fans.

This was music played during Vincent’s youth at his house, and the joy it brings, is easily contagious. There are contributions from each band member, whether it is the steady bottom end provided by Essiett on bass, bluesy choruses from pianist Kikoski, or rock solid drumming from Brown.

Each front line horn gets featured several times. Jeremy Pelt channels Blue Mitchell on Horace Silver’s “Filthy McNasty,” and his trumpet drips with a late night bar room feel on Donald Byrd’s “Slow Drag.”

Wayne Escoffery provides the “Turrentine grease” on “Too Blue,” and revisits his own youth on Sugar Hill in Harlem on “Driftin,” which was featured on Herbie Hancock’s 1962 debut, Takin’ Off. 

The horns’ blend is highlighted on Pee Wee Ellis’ “The Chicken,” and Roy Hargrove’s “Strasbourg/St. Denis.” On the latter, his “Peltness,” Mr. Pelt’s swagger is felt, while Herring flexes his be-bop credentials.

This CD, released this month in June, adds a bonus track, John Coltrane’s ballad, “Naima,” given an uptempo read.

Something Else! truly is. Easily recommended and  ***** star quality.

Put this one on your Summer listening list pronto…

—Jeff Krow

Vincent Herring & Something Else – Soul Jazz

Filty McNasty
Too Blue
Mean Greens
The Chicken
Slow Drag
Strasbourg/St. Denis
Naima (bonus track)

More information through Smoke Session Records

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Album Cover for Vincent Herring and Something Else - Soul Jazz


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