Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Perfect Tenor: Ode for Joe

OK, let's get back to it with this 81st birthday tribute to one of the all-time Jazz titans ever to blow.
Today's honoree is someone I saw play countless times when he was here, and who never failed to even appear as if he was gonna fail to deliver the goods.
How many sessions did he play on? How many LPs did he lead? I would tell you but I can't count that high, either.
One thing I have always adored about Jazz is the quotes a soloist references, little melodic fragments of other tunes they work into their expression. This guy may have been the All-Time Galactic Champion of that... we called him Jukebox Joe and he probably knew how to play every song ever written.
Easily one of the most elegantly lyrical and melodically masterful soloists on any instrument in any kind of music, I can recall several shows when people were reduced to tears in his presence. The good kind.
He's been gone more than 15 years now, can you believe that? I remember the last time I saw him, at Kimball's East in Oakland for a benefit to buy a new liver for Billy Higgins. That was a night for the ages.
There isn't a whole lot more to say except that Joe Henderson -- born this day in 1937 -- was and is one of the five greatest tenor saxophonists in the history of Jazz.
The others, like 'Trane and Newk and Bean and Prez and them, might be more prominent and have cool nicknames to distinguish them. 
But Joe is Joe and he belongs in their conversation, because IMO he took what they had laid down as foundation and synthesized it into a 360 degree expression of the possibilities of the tenor sax that straddled all the lines between the Bop, Hard Bop, Soul Jazz and even the Free strains that predominated his heyday.
For his 81st I have assembled what else but a pair of hourlong radio concerts from way back in 1977, that see Joe and his cohorts setting the standard in real time.
Joe Henderson
1977 FMs
Hermosa Beach, California

01 Leonard Feather intro+band introductions
02 Black Narcissus
03 'Round Midnight
04 Relaxin' at Camarillo 
05 Invitation 
06 Leonard Feather outro 

Total time: 59:32

Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone
George Cables - piano, electric piano 
Steve Erquiaga - guitar 
Ratzo Harris - bass 
Mike Hyman - drums 

master reel of one of the first NPR "Jazz Alive!" broadcasts, verrry slightly remastered by EN
De Boerenhofstede
Laren, The Netherlands

01 Afro-Centric
02 announcement+band introductions
03 Good Morning Heartache
04 announcement+JH interview
05 Recorda Me/announcement

Total time: 55:52

Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone
Steve Erquiaga - guitar
Ratzo Harris - bass
Mike Hyman - drums

mono capture of an original 1977 Dutch Radio broadcast, verrrrrry slightly remastered by EN

both shows zipped together
I shall return on Friday with something really unexpected and loud, but for now it's time for you to spend your Tuesday in the company of Joe Henderson, who'd have been 81 today but whose influence on other reed-shattering players will last another 81,000 years.--J.
4.24.1937 - 6.30.2001

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