Joe Henderson: Joe Henderson In Japan
Henderson’s opening improvisation on the all too familiar “Round Midnight” is alone worth the cash outlay to get your hands on this piece of history. A fountain of raspingly rendered lines gurgle from his tenor’s bell before the rhythm section chimes in and a brisker pace is clocked. Henderson’s Japanese sidemen are largely unexceptional, but they remain unobtrusive and supportive enough to push him toward heights he rarely reached before or has since. Hino’s hyperbolic drums are particularly effective in this capacity and he attacks his skins with dithyrambic vigor. Ichikawa’s electric keys, though a dubious sign of the times, offer a strangely atmospheric underpinning to the ensemble sound. Inaba’s bass is the weakest link, his playing often resorting to blunt rhythmic slabs rather than intricately crafted patterns. Henderson remains the catalyst and his hard-charging tenor plows past his partners aiming for ionospheric altitudes. He was and is a player who always seemed able to reconcile ‘outside’ leanings with a complete command of ‘inside’ techniques and traditions and this talent is on abundant display throughout the four performances.
Two Blue Note era compositions, “Blue Bossa” and the humorously retitled and reworked “Out n’ In” are sandwiched between an improvised blues (named after the venue) and the aforementioned standard and Henderson raises the roof on all of them. All of the pieces are impressive workouts but “Junk Blues” is perhaps the most thrilling in terms of execution. During the unruly improvisation Henderson churns out an amazing fusillade of melodic variations as the rhythm section nips ardently at his heels. That night in Tokyo the saxophonist tapped into something transcendental and all the fire and passion transmits directly to this recording.
Tracks:‘Round Midnight/ Out n’ In/ Blue Bossa/ Junk Blues.
Players:Joe Henderson- tenor saxophone; Hideo Ichikawa- electric piano; Kunimitsu Inaba- bass; Motohiko Hino- drums.
Recorded: August 4, 1971, Tokyo, Japan.
Record Label: Fantasy Jazz