07 John HerbermanSpring Comes Early
John Herberman
Ceola Records CR0003 (johnherberman.com)

Composer and pianist, John Herberman is not primarily known as a jazz musician, but has enjoyed a long, successful career as a screen composer/producer. He has received many international accolades for his 45 successful albums as well as record sales in the millions. Like his debut jazz recording of 2021, his new project also focuses on the jazz of the 50s and 60s, as exemplified by pianists such as the late Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal. All of the well-constructed tunes here were written by Herberman, who performs on acoustic piano and Fender Rhodes, and he has surrounded himself here with a superb ensemble of noted jazz musicians.

The program begins with the lovely Courtenay Circle, which memorializes a street and time in Rochester where Herberman jammed with wonderful friends who have sadly both passed. This sweet track features both Mark Eisenman and Herberman on piano, and a stunner of a solo from bassist Paul Novotny. Next up is the thoroughly gorgeous Central Park West, which was inspired by a New York City Busker, wailing on his sax into the sticky, NYC summer night. Herberman brilliantly captures the mood on Rhodes here, with eminent alto saxophonist Verne Dorge, hauntingly soloing in the spotlight.

Another sumptuous track is Modalities – this delicious composition includes the evocative muted trumpet of John MacLeod, with a visceral harkening back to 1950s-era Miles Davis. Vibraphonist Mark Duggan adds his own luminous work to this stunner. Another highlight is the title track, which is a diaphanous homage to the iconic Evans, with Duggan and MacLeod (on flugelhorn) moving contiguously through the piece, propelled by Herberman on Rhodes. The exquisite Kevin Turcotte is featured on flugelhorn in the closer, Ballad for M.T., which also features Herberman on mesmerizing, sylph-like acoustic piano and Novotny on sinuous, emotive bass.

Listen to 'Spring Comes Early' Now in the Listening Room

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