About Vincent Herring
A soulful improviser, alto saxophonist Vincent Herring plays with a warm, throaty tone and an ear for combining swinging, blues-based acoustic jazz with advanced harmonic ideas. Fittingly, given the early influence saxophonist Cannonball Adderley had on Herring, it makes sense that he first came to prominence alongside cornet player Nat Adderley in the late 1980s. He has remained a vital proponent for carrying forward the hard bop tradition and has played with luminaries like Freddie Hubbard, Art Blakey, Phil Woods, and the Mingus Big Band. As a leader, his albums flow from hard-hitting acoustic dates like 1989's Scene One with Jack DeJohnette and 2004's Mr. Wizard with Jeremy Pelt to organic funk explorations like 2010's Morning Star, as well as bold team-up's like 2012's Friendly Fire: Live at Smoke with saxophonist Eric Alexander. As further evidence of his dedication to the jazz tradition, Herring marked Charlie Parker's centennial birthday in 2019 with the live album Bird at 100, and in 2021, he returned to his adept small group work with Preaching to the Choir.
Born in Kentucky in 1964, Herring grew up in Vallejo, California, where he moved with his mother after his parents divorced. It was there, around age 11, that he first picked up the saxophone, playing in school band and taking private lessons. By age 16, he had earned a scholarship to study at California State University, Chico. After a year at CSUC, he joined the United States Military Academy band the Jazz Knights and relocated to West Point. In the early '80s, after his tour was up, Herring moved to New York City and furthered his studies at Long Island University.
Upon leaving school, he scored his first professional touring job with the Lionel Hampton Big Band. It was during this period that he caught the attention of cornetist Nat Adderley, and spent close to a decade touring and recording as a member of Adderley's group, debuting on 1989's We Remember Cannon. Along with Adderley, he also performed with such highly respected artists as Cedar Walton, John Hicks, Freddie Hubbard, Horace Silver, Art Blakey, and many more.
As a leader, Herring debuted in 1989 with Scene One. Recorded just prior to joining up with Adderley, the album featured the saxophonist in a high-energy date backed by pianist Darrell Grant, bassist Robert Hurst, and drummer Jack DeJohnette. More well-received albums followed, including 1990's American Experience, 1993's Secret Love, 1994's Days of Wine and Roses, and 1999's bossa nova-themed Jobim for Lovers. During the '90s, he also appeared on albums by Phil Woods, Carl Allen, Louis Smith, the Mingus Big Band, and others.
Beginning in the 2000s, he formed a productive relationship with the HighNote label, delivering albums like 2001's Simple Pleasure, 2004's Mr. Wizard, and 2006's Ends and Means. The concert album Live at Smoke appeared in 2007. In 2010, he delivered the third installment of his funk-jazz-influenced Earth Jazz project, Morning Star, with Anthony Wonsey, Richie Goods, and Jordi Dudli. He then paired with fellow saxophone giant Eric Alexander for 2012's Friendly Fire: Live at Smoke. In 2017, Herring released Hard Times, recorded once again at Smoke in New York City, and featuring Nicolas Bearde, Russell Malone, Steve Turre, Brad Mason, and Sam Dillon.
More Smoke Sessions followed, including 2019's Bird at 100, which found him celebrating Charlie Parker's centennial alongside fellow saxophonists Bobby Watson and Gary Bartz. In 2021, Herring delivered the soulful quartet date Preaching to the Choir with pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Johnathan Blake. ~ Matt Collar
BORNNovember 19, 1964