Thursday, January 21, 2021

Vincent Herring sears and swings in Naples

The Naples Philharmonic Jazz Orchestra's socially distanced concert series at Artis-Naples didn't miss a beat on Wednesday, January 20 when the sextet was joined by special guest Vincent Herring. The alto saxophonist replaced tenor player Billy Harper, who had been scheduled until pandemic concerns scuttled his travel plans.

Vincent Herring
Herring has been based in New York since 1982.  His soulful, swinging style was heavily influenced by the late Cannonball Adderley. Herring worked for nine years with trumpeter Nat Adderley. After Nat's death, he formed the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band with drummer Louis Hayes. He last played with the Naples sextet in 2018.

For this concert,  the material pretty much alternated between four jazz covers and three of Herring's varied originals. Artistic director and tenor saxophonist Lew Del Gatto penned arrangements for the sextet. The band also included trumpeter Dan Miller, violinist Glenn Basham, pianist Jerry Stawski, bassist Kevin Mauldin and drummer Mike Harvey. 

Herring, Stawski, Del Gatto
After opening with a romp through Wes Montgomery's "Fried Pies,"  Herring put a new twist on "That Old Devil Moon" with some fleeting "Killer Joe" melodic references to honor composer Benny Golson. His exhilarating original "Koba's Delight" featured Miller and Harvey, who set and sustained its double-time pace.

In contrast,Herring and the resident sextet featured violinist Basham on a laid-back cover of Stevie Wonder's "You are the Sunshine of My Life." Herring's tune "Dudli's Dilemma" had a decided hard bop feel. He joined the rhythm section to explore Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge" with a bit of melancholy, no doubt reflecting most jazz musicians plight after a year with little touring and minimal work.

They closed things out with another original, the gospel/R&B-tinged "Preaching to the Choir," which Herring wrote in tribute to drummer Carl Allen, with whom he has performed and recorded.

For this season, the sextet's concerts were moved out of the more intimate 275-seat Daniels Pavilion. The more than 200 audience members were masked and distanced within spacious Hayes Hall.

There are four concerts left in the sextet's 2020-21 concert season. It performs February 10 with guitarist Pasquale Grasso and celebrates the Charlie Parker Centennial on March 3. Alto saxophonist Dick Oatts is the March 31 special guest. Singer Denise Donatelli, originally scheduled in early March, joins the NPJO for its season finale on May 12.

Herring, Stawski, Del Gatto, Miller, Mauldin, Basham, Harvey

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