Eric Alexander & Vincent Herring – Friendly Fire (2011)

FrontCover1Eric Alexander (born August 4, 1968) is an American jazz saxophonist.

Alexander was born in Illinois. He began as a classical musician, studying alto saxophone at Indiana University with Eugene Rousseau in 1986.

He soon switched to jazz and the tenor saxophone, however, and transferred to William Paterson University, where he studied with Harold Mabern, Rufus Reid, Joe Lovano, Gary Smulyan, Norman Simmons, Steve Turre and others.

Eric Alexander02

Alexander finished second at the 1991 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition. He was soon signed by a record label.

Alexander has worked with many jazz musicians, including Chicago pianist Harold Mabern, bassist Ron Carter, drummer Idris Muhammad, and guitarist Pat Martino. He is part of Mike LeDonne’s Groover Quartet with Peter Bernstein, and Joe Farnsworth. He has recorded and toured extensively with the sextet, One for All. (wikipedia)

Eric Alexander01

Known for his warm tone and robust, bop-informed lyricism, saxophonist Eric Alexander has carried the torch for straight-ahead modern jazz into the 21st century. Influenced by artists like Dexter Gordon and George Coleman, Alexander initially garnered attention playing in Chicago in the early ’90s before moving to New York. He has received acclaim for his driving hard bop albums like 1999’s Man with a Horn, 2006’s It’s All in the Game, and 2017’s Song of No Regrets. He is a founding member of the all-star sextet One for All, and has played with a bevy of luminaries including Charles Earland, Harold Mabern, Cedar Walton, and many more. (by Matt Collar)

Eric Alexander at Smoke Jazz Club, New York City, August 14, 2009:
Eric Alexander03

On this album he plays together with Vincent Herring:

Vincent Dwayne Herring (born November 19, 1964) is an American jazz saxophonist, flautist, composer, and educator. Known for his fiery and soulful playing in the bands of Horace Silver, Freddie Hubbard, and Nat Adderley in the earlier stages of his career, he now frequently performs around the world with his own groups and is heavily involved in jazz education.

Vincent Herring02

He was born in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, United States. His parents divorced, and he and his mother moved to California. When he was 11, he started playing saxophone in school bands and studying privately at Dean Frederick’s School of Music in Vallejo, California. At age 16, he entered California State University, Chico on a music scholarship.

A year later, Herring auditioned for the United States Military Academy band, Jazz Knights, playing lead alto sax. He moved to West Point and served one enlisted tour. In 1982 he moved to New York City attending Long Island University.

Vincent Herring01

Herring first toured the United States and Europe as part of the Lionel Hampton Big Band. His talents came to the attention of Nat Adderley, and the two forged a nine-year musical relationship that led to nine albums and touring around the world year after year. After Adderley’s death, Herring collaborated with former Cannonball Adderley bandmember Louis Hayes to form the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band. He also worked and recorded with pianist Cedar Walton for over two decades. He has also appeared on stage or recordings with Dizzy Gillespie, Horace Silver, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Jack DeJohnette’s Special Edition, Freddie Hubbard, James Carter, Larry Coryell, Steve Turre, the Mingus Big Band, Billy Taylor, Nancy Wilson, Kenny Barron, Roy Hargrove, Arthur Taylor, Carla Bley, Mike LeDonne, Eric Alexander, Wallace Roney, Carl Allen, Bobby Watson, Gary Bartz, Sonny Fortune, Cyrus Chestnut, Jeremy Pelt, Joe Farnsworth, and the Phil Woods Sax Machine (a band augmenting Woods’ regular quintet to an octet with three additional alto saxophonists). Herring has appeared as a special guest soloist with Wynton Marsalis at Lincoln Center as well as with Jon Faddis and The Carnegie Hall Big Band.

Vincent Herring03

Herring has recorded over 20 albums as a leader and over 250 as a sideman. In addition to the Cannonball Adderley Legacy Band, Herring’s other projects include The Vincent Herring-Joris Dudli’s Soul Jazz Alliance, Earth Jazz Agents, Friendly Fire with Vincent Herring and Eric Alexander, and Jazz The Story.

Herring has taken bands to Japan, Europe, and China on several occasions and has appeared in nearly every major jazz festival in the world. He is also involved in jazz education as a professor at William Paterson University and Manhattan School of Music. (wikipedia)

Vincent Herring04

The Smoke is considered one of the hipper venues in New York City. A jazz club/cocktail lounge where jazz connoisseurs gather seven days a week to immerse themselves in a mix of hard bop and martinis.
It was the perfect location for alto saxophonist Vincent Herring s and tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander s first SAX Battle, so it was only logical that the re-match should take place here again.

Smoke Club01

On Friendly Fire, the two saxophonists bring a charged set, which above all
mutual recognition and friendly rivalry. Selected original compositions and some classics form the musical material over which the saxophonists pursue their improvisational skills. (press release)


This jazz CD featuring the great jazz saxophonists, Eric Alexander on tenor and Vincent Herring on alto was recorded live at SMOKE, a small jazz and supper club in uptown Manhattan with impeccable acoustics, great food and some of the best jazz in town i.e. New York City.
These two jazz giants started the set with a Hank Mobley piece called Pat `N’ Chat, which was to set the standard from which they never stray. Their inventive solos were a knockout, not necessarily competitive rather a joyous interplay that inspired them to take more risks. This was followed by, Sukiyaki at a loping tempo that kicked into a hard swing feel when Herring took off in his solo.


There are also some timeless standards such as, You’ve Changed, Mona Lisa, Here’s That Rainy Day and a rhythm section that kicked arse when required and swung like A train all the way to Harlem. (by Helen Matthews)

Recorded live at the Smoke Club, New York City on August 19 & 20, 2011.


Eric Alexander (saxophone)
Carl Allen (drums)
Mike LeDonne (piano)
Vincent Herring (saxophone)
John Webber (bass)


01. Pat ‘N’ Chat (Mobley) 8.17
02. Sukiyaki (Ei/Nakamura) 9.50
03. Inception (Tyner) 8.47
04. Dig Dis (Mobley) 8.42
05. You’ve Changed (Carey/Fischer) 5.00
06. Here’s That Rainy Day (Burke/v.Heusen) 8.43
07. Mona Lisa (Evans/Lvingston) 4.14
08. Timothy (Herring) 9.14

Smoke Club02


The official Eric Alexander website:

The official Vincent Herring website:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.