After being so impressed with Eddie Henderson's trumpet work on Billy Harper's 1990 album Destiny Is Yours, I wanted to hear him as a leader. Little did I know that he'd also played with Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, Joe Henderson, Art Blakey, Kenny Barron and McCoy Tyner. The result of those experiences is strongly in evidence on Inspiration.
While the influences of Miles and Freddie Hubbard are demonstrated, Henderson is definitely his own man and a master at that. The ensemble work is strong and swinging throughout. Each member's solo chops are also formidable (don't be impatient, Lewis Nash gets his turn in the final song). The song choices were excellent. In addition to the standards, Kenny Barron,Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Bobby Hutcherson and Billy Harper are represented (this is particularly gratifying, since Harper does not get enough recognition, in my opinion. The album also has excellent sound quality and balance of instruments.
There are only two minor disappointments here: that we only get to hear Grover Washington, Jr. on two cuts and that we don't get more trumpet/vibes combinations (which really sparkle on the opening Surrey with the Fringe on Top).
If you're looking for an album which breaks new ground this isn't it. Otherwise "Inspiration" satisfies on every level.
SONGS:Surrey with the Fringe on Top; I Remember Clifford; Jinriksha; Oliloqui Valley; When You Wish Upon a Star; Phantoms; On Green Dolphin Street; If One Could Only See; Little B's Poem; Peresina.
PLAYERS: Eddie Henderson, trumpet, flugelhorn; Kevin Hays, piano; Joe Locke, vibes; Ed Howard, bass; Lewis Nash, drums; Grover Washington, Jr., soprano saxophone (cuts 2 & 4).