There is a long tradition of "saxophone battles" in jazz with duos such as Dexter Gordon and Wardell Gray or Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane performing together in a kind of sporting joust of abilities, a gentleman's contest for who is the better player. On the 2012 concert album Friendly Fire: Live at Smoke, tenor saxophonist Eric Alexander and alto saxophonist Vincent Herring join in this tradition with a swinging, passionate set of standards recorded live at the respected N.Y.C. venue. The album is actually a re-pairing of the duo, who first sparred on 2005's Battle: Live at Smoke. This time around they spar over such numbers as Hank Mobley's "Pat 'N' Chat," McCoy Tyner's "Inception," the standard "You've Changed," as well as Herring's own "Timothy," among others. Backing the saxophonists here are pianist Mike LeDonne, bassist John Webber, and drummer Carl Allen. This is a lively and exciting session of adventurous and old-school straight-ahead jazz.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Matt Collar