Herberman’s compositions and arrangements bring out the best in all of the musicians.

Ceola Records CR003

John Herberman (Piano, Scarbee Rhodes Mark I), Verg Dorge (Soprano, Alto and Tenor Saxophones), Kevin Turcotte (Flugelhorn), John McLeod (Trumpet, Flugelhorn), Mark Eisenman (Piano), Eric St. Laurent (Electric Guitar), Paul Novotny (Acoustic and Electric bass [1,2,3,6,8}), Pat Kilbride (Acoustic and Electric Bass{4, 5, 7}), Mark Kelso (Drums, Percussion {2,4,5, 6, 7, 8}), Ted Warren (Drums {1, 3}), Eric Cadesky (Percussion), Margaret Maria (Cello)

Recorded late 2022 and early 2023

John Herberman, the composer and arranger of this great collection of eight songs, is not widely recognized as a jazz musician. Over the past 35 years, he has had two primary roles: firstly, he has worked as a composer and orchestrator for screen productions, and secondly, he has produced around 45 albums as a composer and producer. His music has sold millions of copies around the world.

During the pandemic, Herberman returned to his jazz roots and created his second album of original jazz songs called “Spring Comes Early.” To record this album, he collaborated with talented jazz musicians from Toronto. Herberman’s previous album, featuring some of the same artists, “Overheard on a Park Bench,” is worth checking out.

The album begins with “Courtenay Circle”. It starts with a piano introduction, then transitions into a Scarbee Rhodes interlude that carries the melody and song. The drums and bass provide supportive accompaniment. The piano solo, a song highlight, is played by Mark Eisenman, who also solos on three other songs. Eisenman has recorded three albums as a leader and numerous as a sideman.

“Central Park West” is not the classic song by Coltrane. It is, in fact, the first appearance of the Alto saxophone that tells a mournful story accompanied by the Scarbee Rhodes-bass-drums trio. The horn work is smooth and pleasing to the ear, with expressive and long phrases that transition flawlessly. The performance is very soulful. The acoustic bassist takes a solo that explores the lower spectrum of the song.

“Modalities” begins with a haunting trumpet melody, accompanied by the cello and vibraphone. The cello and bass support the Scarbee Rhodes as the song unfolds smoothly. The otherworldly atmosphere of the melody is maintained as McLeod offers a thoughtful trumpet solo. The song is reminiscent of gliding on ice.

“Gentle Giant” is a song that references Coltrane’s “Giant Steps,” but with more straightforward chord progressions. The cello provides a sonic backdrop for solos. Eisenman plays an impressive piano solo that transitions into a captivating soprano solo by Droge, all backed by bass, drums, and cello.

“Ballad for M.T.” closes the album on a stately note. It has a sadness to it, reflecting the sudden loss of a friend to cancer. Here, Herberman plays a thoughtful solo that Turcotte matches on Flugelhorn. The song closes with a palpable reverence for the subject.

Herberman excels at combining the right instrumentalists with colorful arrangements. His compositions and arrangements bring out the best in all of the musicians. The soloists are in service to the song. There are no gratuitous solos or playing – the band plays as an integrated unit. I recommend this CD to all types of listeners.