I have been cheerfully drowning myself of late in the warm, choppy, all-embracing seas of the multitudinous and various reissues from the venerable Blue Note stable of jazz.
Joe Henderson (1937-2001) was a tenor sax player who never became what you might call a household name, unlike Coltrane or even Dexter Gordon, both of whom his tone has echoes of at times, but that`s not through lack of either inspiration or expertise. There`s a quite mesmerising urgency and sense of drama to this 1964 date that is partly down to Henderson`s muscular control as leader, but also to his trio of fellow musicians, a fiery Elvin Jones - when wasn`t he fiery? - whacking his drum kit on the opening title track like there`s no tomorrow (in jazz, there isn`t), the moody, tripping bass figures of Bob Cranshaw, and the princely wisdom of the great pianist McCoy Tyner playing a storm.
Cook & Morton`s Penguin Guide to Jazz calls this music `dark and intense`, and it does have the same single-minded intensity you hear on some Coltrane recordings of the period, though Henderson was a different animal with a less relentlessly reedy tone than Trane - an observation merely, not a value judgement.
Tyner (happily still with us at 73) really does shine on these five tracks. What a warm, humane sound he has, and even at the age of 26 comes across as a fully-formed musician of endless inventiveness and panache. His lengthy solo on Isotope is a joy to listen to.
Before this marvellous album is rounded off with a perfectly executed riff on Cole Porter`s Night And Day - Joe`s improvising on its almost hackneyed theme being a masterclass in the art - we have the abrasive Trane-like impressionism of El Barrio, with Joe`s opening sax plaint riveting the attention, as well as the beautifully played and most welcome ballad You Know I Care.
A year after Page One, his superb debut as leader, this is an essential Blue Note classic from start to finish.
Mighty Joe Henderson was one of the greats. Get the urge.