Joe Henderson

Andrew Hill ‘One For One’

I can’t honestly say that Andrew Hill’s music is the easiest or most obvious jazz to get one’s head around. But I can honestly say that his music has been some of the most consistently thrilling, engaging, and satisfying music I’ve discovered. The unexpected is the only constant in his boundary-testing music, and his run of excellence at Blue Note from 63-70–with over 15 albums worth of material that were all top shelf—is the stuff of legend. ‘One For One’ is a 1975 compilation from 3 previously unreleased sessions:
1965: Freddie Hubbard (cornet) Joe Henderson (tenor sax) Richard Davis (bass) & Joe Chambers (drums)
1969: Bennie Maupin (tenor sax, flute) Sanford Allen (violin) Al Brown, Selwart Clarke (viola) Kermit Moore (cello) Ron Carter (bass) & Mickey Roker (drums)
1970: Bennie Maupin (tenor, flute & bass clarinet) Pat Patrick (alto, flute & baritone sax) Charles Tolliver (trumpet) & Ben Riley (drums)
“Ocho Rios” from the ‘65 session may be my favorite Hill track, ever. Some of the material (and then some) was eventually issued as ‘Pax’ and all if it (and even more) was issued as a Mosaic 3CD box some years later. I like the way Joe Henderson is mixed on this LP more so than the CD—to my ears, his presence is more ferocious on vinyl, and he’s going more toe-to-toe with Hubbard. On the CD, there’s something about the mix that makes him sound a bit tamer, which gives a different sonic fingerprint to the session, relegating Henderson more to the role of straight-man to Hubbard’s youthful brashness. But that’s my ears, and you should trust yours, and both LP and CD have lots to offer. The Blue Note Classics Twofers LP series is largely high quality, with unissued material and good liner notes. Most can still be found without too much trouble or $, but they have gotten scarcer, and prices have risen…if you collect, don’t sleep on these. I have yet to get one I haven’t loved

Roy Ayers ‘Virgo Vibes’

Advanced hard bop, post-bop, and modal grooves come to life on ‘Virgo Vibes,’ recorded for Atlantic in early 1967 by an INCREDIBLE band led by vibes ace Roy Ayers. Side A finds Ayers leading Charles Tolliver-trumpet, Joe Henderson-tenor sax, Herbie Hancock-piano, Reggie Workman-bass, and Bruno Carr-drums, and is highlighted by Tolliver’s opening original “The Ringer.” Side B retains Tolliver on trumpet, joined by Harold Land-tenor sax, Jack Wilson-piano, Buster Williams-bass, and Donald Bailey-drums. The two tracks here—both Ayers originals—occasionally dip into post-bop waters, but the blues undercurrents ground them deeply enough to prevent anything from sounding too abstract or free. Ayers would find greater commercial success in the 70s in the jazz-funk area, laying the groundwork for the birth of acid jazz and neo-soul, but if you’re looking for those sounds, you won’t find them here—this is a classic jazz record through and through. Notes: Herbie Hancock is credited on this record as Ronnie Clark (likely for contractual reasons). Also, the CD reissue contains two bonus tracks, which I’ve not heard, performed by the Side B lineup

McCoy Tyner ‘The Real McCoy’

Stylings of the classic quartet and Second Great Quintet blend beautifully, creating a post-bop tour de force that’s both celebratory and reflective. There’s a lot to enjoy here. “Passion Dance” opens the record and grooves with unadulterated joy. Pair it with a strong cup of coffee, and your day is off to a GREAT start! “Contemplation” and “Search For Peace” are introspective ballads, thoughtful and deep but not somber. “Four By Five” is a labyrinth of intertwining lines and shifting time signatures, an engaging game of musicianship where everybody’s a winner. Then there’s “Blues On The Corner,” which certainly has blues in its DNA, but it’s more distantly related, like a second cousin, twice removed. One thing I always find striking about this session is the uniqueness of Joe Henderson’s voice. It’s easy and almost reactive to envision him as a understudy given the context, but that’s simply not the case. To my ears, Henderson is almost defiant in his insistence on being himself. His attack is sharp, and his lines are aggressive yet melodic. He prowls each measure like a restless panther, attacking with counterpoints to Tyner’s block chords with lithe athleticism. He doesn’t do so with the cold, ruthless efficiency of a predatory cat, but rather with a passion and soulfulness that brings the most out of every tune. All the while, Ron Carter brings the @milesdavis SGQ structural and time freedoms to bear, NONE of which throw Elvin Jones off, even for a moment. Years of partnership with Tyner under the mentorship of Coltrane have created a personal, sympathetic communication between them that ensures they’re working in lockstep. I don’t know that this is the best @mccoytyner album, but it’s certainly one of the two I reach for most often. Essential. Music Matters Jazz 2XLP 45RPM pressing…best I’ve ever heard it

Bobby Hutcherson ‘Stick up’

Tight! Marvelous post bop/hard bop set from leader Bobby Hutcherson who leads a razor sharp ensemble across five originals and a take on Ornette Coleman’s “Una Muy Bonita”. Stylistically this one takes a more straightforward approach than say ‘Components’ or ‘Dialogue’. The band: Bobby Hutcherson-vibes, Joe Henderson-tenor sax, McCoy Tyner-piano, Herbie Lewis-bass, Billy Higgins-drums. The MVP: Billy Higgins, who leans into the groove with gusto, putting more emphasis on swing rather than intricacy. On tracks like “8/4” his deft touch doesn’t require heavy-handedness to keep the groove locked, and that light touch makes it effortless for him to drop into tricky, interlocking unison lines with the rest of the band and before banking right back to swingtown. Masterful. That highwire act is followed by the languid “Summer Nights” which floats with a serenity that’s atmospheric and almost fragile—I find myself holding my breath for fear of disturbing the mood. Don’t let a sense of complacency set in however as “Black Circle” dives into some adventurous spaces without ever going fully “out” or bringing a sense of abrasiveness to the sonic palette. You’d never know from listening to this gem that this was Hutch and Tyner’s first studio session together—they’re as simpatico as peanut butter & jam. Jam being the operative word here, as Tyner’s long-running partnership with Henderson allows for buttery smooth handoffs between them and Hutch. This is a terrific session, originally recorded 14 July 1966 and released in April 1968