With Hard Times, the master saxophonist supplies the perfect musical response to our troubled existence – part escape, part defiance; part lament, part laughter. Over the course of these 11 songs, Herring and his stellar band both sing the blues and shake them off in ways both healing and infectious.
Herring has convened his own boisterous and soulful cabinet for the occasion, featuring a core quartet with pianist Cyrus Chestnut, bassist Yasushi Nakamura, and drummer Carl Allen. The band is bolstered on roughly half the tracks by the horn section of trumpeter Brad Mason, saxophonist Sam Dillon, and trombone virtuoso Steve Turre. Guitar great Russell Malone casts his spell over two tracks, while the rich baritone of renowned vocalist Nicolas Bearde graces three tunes.
The selection of repertoire for Hard Times came down to a single principle: these are quite simply songs that Herring has loved over the years and have seen him through his own hard times – and he hopes his renditions will do the same for listeners. “All through my life, whenever I’ve had ups and downs, music has been the one thing that’s always kept it positive for me,” he says. “It’s always been something that I could come back to and dig into to lift my spirits. This record is meant to be fun, it’s meant to be uplifting, it’s meant to be something that people will want to listen to over and over again.”
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Hard Times is available as a deluxe 8-panel CD Album and as a digital download (including Mastered for iTunes) and in 96kHz/24bit high resolution. It also has original photography by Jimmy Katz and liner notes by Shaun Brady.
From Harlem-based Smoke at smokesessionsrecords.com