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Top Customer Reviews
Like his playing and compositions, Joe had a unique arranging style, and I can recall sweating over some of the insane lines he wrote for us brass players as if he were writing for saxophones! ;) It's too bad that they didn't make this a double CD, as he had many more great charts that we would perform live that were never recorded/released. This album includes several hip arrangements from other talented writers (e.g. Slide Hampton), as well.
There are many outstanding solos from sidemen here: in particular, check out Chick's solo on Isotope and Nicholas Payton's on Step Lightly (perfectly constructed, for those students of jazz out there). Joe plays beautifully and consistently, as usual, and I would assert that this is a *must have* for lovers of Joe Hen's music or contemporary big bands.
"A Shade of Jade" features Henderson and Hubbard with some good punch, ultimately, though, I found it a little too long (8.22). Things are more in focus on "Step Lightly," a mellow blues by Henderson with interesting solos by Henderson, Corea, and Nicholas Payton on trumpet. First recorded in 1963, it has a great straight-ahead sound that is slightly reminiscent of some of Miles' early work, and with the relaxed spacing of a Basie arrangement. "Serenity" features, once again, outstanding work by Henderson and Corea, and a satisfying arrangement that must be a powerhouse live.
I've always loved Billy Strayhorn's "Chelsea Bridge," and Henderson gives it the appropriate film noir treatment. The orchestra mostly lays out at first, but then opens up as Henderson swings it in new directions with a brief return to the main theme. "Recordame" has a nice Brazilian beat, and Henderson's pure clear sound layers over the percussion, but, once again, I find the excursion just a bit repetitive. Overall, though, this is a very satisfying CD, and it wears well after several years. Worth a listen, you'll enjoy it.
To hear Joe's very best playing ( with bass and drums only), pick up the aptly titled State of the Tenor.
Here's my evaluation framework in order of importance: song choice, arrangement (especially swing, power, harmonic inventiveness,) ensemble playing/player quality, solos. This disk is 5 stars on all counts. I could go on and on, but I'll spare you by highlighting a few points.
Song choice: Joe has taken most of his "greatest hits" and big band-a-fied them. These songs are, for me, the core of the album. So if, you like Joe's tune smithing and big bands, this is a must-buy disk.
Arrangements: a very strong trumpet section that hits the highs without cracking. Also a very good use of the small-band-within-the-big-band technique. Wonderful avoidance of arrangement cliches. Most important of all: MOST OF THE ARRANGEMENTS ARE BY JOE HIMSELF! In this regard, the disk is a wonderful surprise: a revelation of another facet of an all time jazz all star. I had the very same reaction when I heard Jaco Pastorius's big band work. Who knew?
As to solos, well let's start with Joe. For my taste, he's one of my top sax men along with Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and Wayne Shorter. He combines the best of these, especially Rollins and Coltrane. His genius is the synthesis of all of these great players. Then, you have Freddie Hubbard, Chick Corea and Nicholas Payton.
One last point: this is one of those disks that you can listen to at many levels.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The personnel on this record is amazing and surprising - Chick Corea, Freddie Hubbard, Nicholas Payton - and it shows. Read morePublished 4 months ago by David Zapolsky
Very much among the best of my big band library. It's a great addition...wish there were more in this setting by Mr. HendersonPublished 19 months ago by J. Holman
A classic effort by Joe. Great sound and arrangements, in which he finds the right expression in this kind of environment. A slightly different take on this great tenor man.Published on December 8, 2013 by Flex
The big band itself works great on these compositions, and the arrangements are brilliant, especially on Recorda Me. Read morePublished on December 1, 2013 by Manu C.
Great contemporary big band album. Never cliched. Subtle quirks notions and timings keep it fresh. This is music that rewards careful attention or plays well in the background. Read morePublished on January 25, 2011 by Zero
A big, powerful band indeed, though not large enough that individual prowess gets rubbed out. this is the rare brass attack that augments shrill thrills with worthwhile melodic... Read morePublished on November 16, 2009 by IRate
If I could rate this album 20 stars I would. 5 stars does not seem adequate to describe how great this album is. Read morePublished on May 2, 2008 by J.B.
Joe Henderson, always looking back to the past and right into the future, captures that musical nature on his BIG BAND recording. Read morePublished on March 8, 2008 by trumpet mercenary