martes, 13 de enero de 2015

EDDIE HENDERSON - Collective Portrait (2015)

Label: Smoke Sessions
Gab's Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆       

Collective Portrait is much more than just the title of Eddie Henderson‘s new album for Smoke Sessions Records. For Henderson, it’s the heart and soul of the remarkable trumpet/flugelhorn master’s entire approach to musical expression. Taking a cue from Miles Davis statement that “a collective portrait is better than a self-portrait,” Henderson has assembled a stellar cast of musicians to create music forged with the classic qualities of synergy and empathy essential for jazz at its highest level. Re-uniting with pianist George Cables and alto saxophonist Gary Bartz — musical collaborators for nearly 40 years — along with the perfectly simpatico bass and drums tandem of Doug Weiss and Carl Allen, Collective Portrait embodies the creative spirit and adventurousness that is always the primary goal of all of Henderson’s musical endeavors. “I’ve known all of these guys for a long time but when we got together as a quintet for the first time in front of a live audience at Smoke to prepare for this date, I knew we had something,” explains Henderson. “It had that special chemistry.”
The 10-composition collection that Henderson has chosen for Collective Portrait is considerably more than a selection of fine songs. Each piece has a special meaning to him, including three pieces directly connected to trumpet masters who were personally influential to Henderson’s development. Freddie Hubbard’s “First Light”, Woody Shaw’s “Zoltan” and Jimmy Heath’s “Ginger Bread Boy”, immortalized by Miles Davis, are all powerfully delivered with virtuosity that never gets in the way of the vibrant lyricism, relentless rhythmic drive and palpable excitement. Two Cables’ pieces — the fractured funk rhythm-driven “Morning Song” and the punchy syncopated driver “Beyond Forever” — both originally recorded by the two men on an earlier Henderson album in 1977, are marvelously re-imagined for this recording. Two Henderson originals (both featuring Cables on electric piano) are included, the surging but wistful Spanish-influenced “Sunburst” and the highly atmospheric, aptly titled “Dreams.”
And what would a Henderson album be without the exquisite balladry for which he is an acknowledged master. Duke Pearson’s captivating “You Know I Care” is given a tender and serene rendition; Leszek Kulakowski’s “Spring” takes a more sprightly, but no less sensitive approach; and “Together,” by Henderson’s wife Natsuko, celebrates their 20 years together in a most lovely manner.
Often compared to Miles Davis for his deep lyricism and modal mastery, Henderson has contributed mightily to the music of many of the modern giants, including Herbie Hancock (including three years with Hancock’s Mwandishi group), McCoy Tyner, Pharoah Sanders, among many others; including that foremost University of Jazz — Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers. He also attended some more widely recognized universities in pursuit of his medical degree, and in addition to his busy musical career, Henderson also practiced psychiatry for more than 10 years. Although he is widely recognized by musicians and knowledgeable fans as one of the finest musicians of the past 40 years, he has not yet achieved the popular recognition he deserves. Collective Portrait should help bring about a cure to that.

Eddie Henderson - trumpet
George Cables - piano
Gary Bartz - saxophone
Doug Weiss - bass
Carl Allen - drums

Morning Song
You Know I Care
Beyond Forever
First Light
Ginger Bread Boy

"Master your instrument, master the music 
& then forget all that & just play."
 - Charlie Parker -


Bud Shank Quintet & Sextet - New Groove / Barefoot Adventure (2 Lps On 1 Cd) (Feat. Carmell Jones & Bob Cooper) 2013

The two albums included here, “New Groove,” and “Barefoot Adventure,” present Bud Shank not only on alto sax, but also on baritone, an instrument he had played in clubs and as a sideman in sporadic studio sessions since the early ‘50s, but never before on his own recording dates. And while his alto has his customary command and fluency, his work on the less familiar baritone is equally impressive, the sound hard and driving, with expressive use of dynamics.

In these 1961 recordings, he fronts two similar groups, with a fresh approach, more groove-based and soulful, compared to previous works. With that in mind, he hired the young and talented trumpeter Carmell Jones, just arrived to the L.A. scene from Kansas City, whose warmth and enthusiasm on both sides are contagious. On “Barefoot,” the presence of Bob Cooper is felt throughout, with his tenor solos consistenly fluent and swinging.

In the rhythm, Dennis Budimir on guitar handles most of the comping chores in his puckish prodding way; Gary Peacock shows he was developing into a reliable rhythm mate; and Mel Lewis in the first date and Shelly Manne in the second, play with their celebrated taste, imagination, and musicianship.

Carmell Jones (tp)
Bud Shank (as, bs)
Bob Cooper (ts)
Dennis Budimir (g)
Gary Peacock (b)
Mel Lewis, Shelly Manne (d)

01. New Groove
02. The Awakening
03. White Lightnin’
04. Sultry Serenade
05. Well, You Needen’t
06. Liddledabllduya
07. Barefoot Adventure
08. Shoeless Beach Meeting
09. Jungle Cruise
10. How High the Makaha
11. Well, ‘Pon My Soul
12. Ala Moana
13. Bruce Is Loose
14. Dance of the Sea Monsters

Original sources:

Tracks #1-6 from the Pacific album
"New Groove" (Stereo-21)

Tracks #7-14 from the Pacific album
"Barefoot Adventure" (PJ-35)

"Hearing is Everything" Peter Watkins


McCoy Tyner - Nights of Ballads & Blues (1963)

As the title implies, this McCoy Tyner release is a low-key, after-hours affair. Far removed from the intensity of work with then-boss John Coltrane, Tyner stretches out on a fine mix of standards and bebop classics. The pianist, of course, always had his own fleet and rich way with ballads, in spite of the galvanizing marathon solos he became known for on live dates and his later experimental recordings with Coltrane. His ballad style is even touched with a bit of sentimentality, which thankfully is kept in check by a bevy of tasteful lines. Backed by the topnotch rhythm tandem of bassist Steve Davis and drummer Lex Humphries, Tyner finds the room to develop classic statements on highlights like Monk's "'Round Midnight," Ellington and Strayhorn's "Satin Doll," and Parker's "Star Eyes." On more easeful tracks like "For Heaven's Sake," Tyner utilizes his block chord approach to meditative and romantic effect. Rounded out blues sides like "Blue Monk" and Tyner's own "Groove Waltz," Nights of Ballads and Blues qualifies as one of the pianist's most enjoyable early discs.