May 2019

Joe Henderson ‘The State of the Tenor Vol. 2’

Get. This. Record.
The tenor sax/bass/drum combo might understandably trigger comparisons to Sonny Rollins legendary Vanguard recordings but this is an entirely different bag of bananas. This recently issued Tone Poet vinyl is jaw-droopingly awesome, and a significant upgrade from the CD. Most notably in the tone and presence of Ron Carter’s bass in the mix. In fact, the depth and resonance of every nuance is so clear he deserves co-billing as a leader. Carter and Henderson (supported with crisp, tight drumming from Al Foster) spin lines that flow, intertwine, support, challenge, merge and then melt into new, uncharted vistas—producers Stanley Couch & Michael Cuscuna deliberately encouraged the trio to engage with less-familiar repertoire to lure everyone’s improvisational best to the fore. Mission accomplished. It’s wild and exploratory, yet melodic and fun at the same time. For those looking for a piece of vinyl to demonstrate why they bother with the time and expense over the easier digital options, look no further. Five stars, two thumbs up, and a record I’ll be spinning again and again. Looking forward to the release of Vol. 1 next year

Woody Shaw ‘Rosewood’

A moment of reflection for Woody Shaw who flew from this world 30 years ago today. Shaw was a brilliant musician with top shelf skills in many areas—an innovative and nearly flawless technique, perfect pitch, and a photographic memory for charts; in addition to widely admired skills as arranger, composer, improviser and band leader. All of these were put to the test on his major label debut ‘Rosewood’ and he passed with flying colors. There’s hard bop, freebop and modal journeys from a fantastic band, with notable work from Mighty Joe Henderson whose solo on the closing ballad “Maxine” alone is worth the price of admission. Sonically, this record is a beast—beautifully recorded. It’s also really easy to find, widely available across all digital platforms and readily available on vinyl for only a few bucks. While it received many accolades in its day—from Grammy Nominations to Album of the Year/Readers Poll awards in the music press—it feels under-acknowledged and often overlooked these days. Well if you’ve passed it over for some reason, do yourself a favor and give it a spin—it’s sure to please. Groove for groove, it’s probably my favorite jazz record @woodyshawlegacy