Hard bop has never really gone away but has instead morphed into a variety of presentations and while the primary sources seem to have either passed on or are currently hiding out in the jazz witness protection program, Eric Alexander on tenor saxophone and Vincent Herring on alto saxophone more than satisfy with their blowing session on Friendly Fire from HighNote.
The supporting ensemble is not exactly newbies to the sub genre and consist of pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist John Webber and unsung drummer Carl Allen. Using the more familiar term "blowing session" may be just a tad misleading as the ballads "You've Changed" along with "Mona Lisa" and the closer "Timothy" take center stage and are gorgeous recreations of some timeless classics. "Timothy" is an original by Herring and seemingly a classic in waiting. The blues is not to be left out with Alexander and Herring simply slaying the Hank Mobley tune "Dig Dis." The foot to the floor blowing session does happen with Mobley's "Pat 'n' Chat" and McCoy Tyner's "Inception" but always with a clear lyrical vision.
Alexander and Herring are two of the most versatile and expressive saxophonists working the scene today and this live release recorded at Smoke in New York City may as well be put down on their resume as their second home.
Not a bad tune in the bunch with one of the finest rhythm sections you will hear. The art of listening and I refer to musicians listening to each other on stage is on perfect display here as harmonics are shifted, meter may be tweaked but no steps are missed in the making of this stellar recording.
Another consistently high quality release from HighNote...
Tracks: Pat ‘n’ Chat; Sukiyaki; Inception; Dig Dis; You’ve Changed; Here’s That Rainy Day; Mona Lisa; Timothy.
Personnel: Eric Alexander: tenor saxophone; Vincent Herring: alto saxophone; Mike LeDonne: piano; John Webber: bass; Carl Allen: drums.