- Audio CD (February 23, 1993)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Polygram Records
- ASIN: B0000046P4
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #153,373 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
So Near So Far
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So Near, So Far (Musings For Miles)
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One of the most effective tributes ever recorded, this session matches Joe Henderson's tenor with three brilliant former Miles Davis sidemen--guitarist John Scofield, bassist Dave Holland, and drummer Al Foster. While these musicians were associated with Davis during his later electronic years, the session's inspiration is clearly from the trumpeter's great acoustic career. It includes little-heard pieces like "Swing Spring," from 1954, and "Circle," from 1966, as well as masterworks such as "Miles Ahead", "Milestones," and "Flamenco Sketches" from the intervening classic period. Heard at his best here, Henderson is a stunning improviser, combining a relaxed, almost offhand flow with frequently surprising melodic and rhythmic turns, developing an intriguing multidirectionality in his solos. While Davis has been one of the most imitated of musicians, there's nothing derivative about this tribute, which garnered 1993 Grammy Awards as both Best Jazz Instrumental (individual or group) and Best Jazz Solo (instrumental) for Henderson's serene work on "Miles Ahead." The CD is unquestionably a group accomplishment, though, with intense yet restrained work from Scofield (his comping here sometimes suggests the master, Jim Hall) and bristling interplay in the rhythm section. --Stuart Broomer
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Top customer reviews
Further, Al Foster is not my drummer: agressive, wild and random accents (snare-with-cybal shots) can never serve the music, Foster is supposed to know that.
I can listeners who are interested in Joe Hendersons music advise to try his wonderful recordings 'In 'n Out' and 'Out There', accompanied by great drummers.
And while most listeners who are even remotely knowledgeable regarding jazz know his name, his work leaves most in the wind, as his improvisations where often blunt and harsh as he nearly created his own musical architecture that incorporated elements of swing and be-bop that were delivered in a sequence of notes and merging textural extremes that were almost stair-like in their nature ... sounds that didn’t so much draw people in, as his music closed a circle, keeping most out.
Yet here, he steps out of the shadow of Davis, Coltrane, and others, finding himself no longer a sideman, and delivering what might well be his first bonafide commercial success, as his esthetics have been more closely monitored, never swinging too far from center, or climbing his mathematically challenging scale. For the most part So Near, So Far is a timeless recording where he’s able to keep himself away from the cliffs and crashing waves, allowing the listener into his world through a backdoor, because it’s not until his ten minute version of “Side Car” that his young ideas come swooping back, but by this juncture, one’s ready for them, as he’s eased us into his circle so carefully that both he and the listener have no where else to go than to ride with Henderson as glides through open harmonies and structural bliss, crackling like a fire, nearly consuming all ... yet finding a way to end the album on an accessible note, with the title song “So Near, So Far.”
Review by Jenell Kesler
Yet all of these misgivings fade away placed next to this album, which is one of the best of Henderson's career. In part that's because of its careful avoidance of the obvious. If one were to assemble a tribute to the pre-electric Miles (none of these compositions dates from later than 1968), it would hardly be obvious to pair Henderson (who was very briefly with Miles' band during 1967--in his liner notes Henderson says he played alongside Shorter for "four weekends") with three stalwarts of Miles's electric period--Dave Holland, John Scofield & Al Foster. The choice of compositions is also refreshingly unobvious; Miles is usually most closely identified with his interpretations of other composers' work ("My Funny Valentine", "Footprints", "Round Midnight", &c), & in any case the most popular Miles compositions are avoided here (only "Flamenco Sketches" from _Kind of Blue_; no "Tune Up", "Solar", "Four", "Nardis", "Milestones", &c.). (Henderson gently & ambivalently touches in the liner notes on the many accusations that have been levelled over the years at Miles concerning stealing the credits for some songs--"Four" for instance is apparently the work of Eddie Cleanhead Vinson, & Bill Evans should have received co-credits for _Kind of Blue_'s compositions.)
All the foregoing is by way of saying that tribute albums inevitably carry a lot of historical & cultural baggage with them, & often this can weigh heavily on the music. The delight here is that the album entirely succeeds in both paying homage & yet sounding very much of its moment--1992. Holland & Foster are an astonishingly fleet rhythm section, & with Scofield playing with an unexpectedly lucid, open tone, this album is at once transparent in texture & warm in feeling. The use of guitar instead of piano is a brilliant stroke, as it immediately removes any resemblance between these versions & the original Miles versions, & yet Scofield's fragile chording on "Flamenco Sketches" is straight out of Bill Evans. (It's worth comparing his work here with another tribute album from about the same time, Paul Motian's _Bill Evans_, with Bill Frisell a strikingly effective replacement for the original piano.)
Henderson's playing here is impeccable, but this is not a soloist-plus-rhythm-section date: it is four men collectively reconsidering Miles Davis's legacy, working in the closest mutual understanding. One of the essential albums of the 1990s.