For a jazz newcomer, the songs to lookout for are Kenny's Blue Bossa and Joe's Recorda Me, but don't be fooled. If you buy this record, it won't become one of those records you pull out on occassion to hear 2 songs. You will immediately take to the beauty of the remaining four, especially the last two songs.
Joe Henderson was Blue Note's most requested tenor sideman during the 60s. While his playing evolved (and objectively improved) later on, there is a certain richness in his playing present on his blue note records, that is not always there on his Milestone gigs (while I adore those too.) This album MUST be more acknowledge as a plateau in jazz compostion. It would be impossible to improve upon the record. Not too many are in the same league...Kind Of Blue, Moanin', Love Supreme, Unity, Hubtones, Speak No Evil, Song For My Father, Sweet Rain, Out To Lunch, Saxophone Collosus, and probably about 20 others....but what does this have that others don't?...
...this record is the only record that I believe you can put on and listen from beginning to end, and be consistantly enthralled without one moment of hesitation or impatience for the next soloist to take stage. It is perfect. Every jazz listener who does not own it is doing themselves a major disservice. It sums up the brilliance of the probably the greatest tenor of the past 35 years. I miss you Joe!
Half of the material here, although very enjoyable to listen to, is not as inspired as we might expect considering the personnel at hand. One of the problems is the relatively short duration of most of many of the solos herein, denying the improvisor the opportunity to explore and develop a myriad of moods and dynamics - a crucial element of any purposeful, emotional offering.
So let's say that none of the performers is consistently at their best in this session, yet there are at least two works here of great significance - 'Jinrikisha' and 'Out Of The Night'. The other stuff is good, but these two are great.
The recording quality is good.
Blue Bossa - This popular Kenny Dorham jazz standard is heard here with the original composer present. Unfortunately, the rendition is quite uninspiring. The solos by Kenny, Joe, McCoy and Butch are straightforward and less inventive than elsewhere in this album.
La Mesha - Another Dorham original, this soulful ballad contains some nice harmonies in the head. Joe solos first, and is rich and colorful in his execution. Kenny follows with a clean, sensitive yet somewhat unemotional display. McCoy, as he often does, plays the standards and ballads in an unoriginal, yet polished fashion, and his work here is no exception.
Homestretch - A hard-bop number by Joe, this piece swings real hard. The head is sharp and choppy. Joe goes first, reeling out a brief yet energetic solo. Kenny and McCoy follow with very brief and uninspired solos. They trade a few fours with Pete, then out.
Recorda Me - This popular Henderson composition features a catchy head in a medium tempo straight 4 feel. Joe takes honors, and besides a few bright spots, is rather uninspired. Kenny and McCoy, although pleasant in their solos, don't break any new ground on this one. Pete and Butch are equally subdued.
Jinrikisha - This medium tempo swing piece, written by Joe, has a fresh, cool feeling to it. Joe comes out swinging in his solo, and for the first time is this session, we hear some of the soulful lines that define Joe's original style, still emerging and maturing at this date. Kenny seems to struggle with the chord changes a bit, but swings nicely. McCoy is finally coaxed out his shell a bit - just enough to allow us to recognize him as the session's pianist.
Out Of The Night - Another relaxed, cool composition by Joe. The head, shared by Joe and Kenny, is witty and nice. Kenny has a short, reserved solo, followed by Joe's most inventive and emotional display of the session. McCoy, too, performs his most purposeful improvisation of the session here, yet only hinting at his true identity. Butch gets a solo of his own, and is up to the task.
Although not consistently rich and pure, this is nonetheless a very good album, and a pleasure to listen to over and over again. There's no gimmicks, no clichés, just a very nice jazz album that would fit comfortably in most collections. If you're looking for some real serious Henderson, I recommend most highly his fourth, and perhaps his best Blue Note, 'Inner Urge', as well as 'In 'N Out' and 'Mode For Joe'. (I've never heard the very rare second Blue Note, 'Our Thing').
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