Henderson, who had never really been away, returned to the public's consciousness with this remarkable tribute to Strayhorn's music. While he shows absolute respect for his subject's material, Henderson, with the help of some fine sidemen, firmly affixes his own personal stamp.
One strength of the album is that Henderson mixes up his approaches to Strayhorn's wonderfully varied music, offering everything from quintets to solo performances. The quintet includes Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, Stephen Scott on piano, Christian McBride on bass, and Gregory Hutchinson on drums, a collection of some of the finest young talent around.
Marsalis's playing is strong throughout, but the music doesn't lag when he lays out. In fact, three of the strongest pieces on the CD feature the trio of Henderson, Scott and McBride ("Raincheck"), a duet of Hutchinson and Henderson ("Take the A Train") and Henderson playing alone ("Lush Life").
Throughout, Henderson gives his bandmates plenty of room. Scott is superb on "Lotus Blossom," Marsalis brings out the beauty of "A Flower is a Lovesome Thing," and McBride and Hutchinson shine throughout, Hutchinson in particular on "Rain Check" and "Take the A Train," which he shoves along like a locomotive heading for home.
As the previous reviewer said, it's a mystery why this CD hasn't been reviewed more often. It's been a staple of my collection ever since it came out and ever since I heard the first mysterious notes of "Isfahan" melt through the speakers. This is an all-timer...shame on you if you've missed it.