Though he's run the challenging career gamut from Miles Davis
to Herbie Hancock
's lauded explorations with Mwandishihe was an integral part of 1973's watermark Sextant
(Columbia Records)to a doctorate in psychiatry and acclaimed records of his own, ie: '93's Inspirations
(Milestone Records), '73's electronic spaciness Realization
(Capricorn Records) among others, trumpeter Eddie Henderson
has managed to swing low under the horizon, a highly regarded, highly respected player in the circle of players and all knowing jazz heads.
As solid and sturdy as any band of vets, the cool unwinds with the soulful, bubbling syncopation of Kenny Barron
's "Smoke Screen," heralding in Henderson's Be Cool
, and we're off to the races real quick. In the service of cool, Henderson has enlisted hip help from pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Essiet Essiet
, saxophonist Donald Harrison
and drummer Mike Clark
. All are on their A Game, especially Henderson, whose brassy, bluesy tone sets the pace, knowing this could be a record to be remembered for. The usually kicking "After You're Gone" is daringly taken here as a still, reflective conversation of souls and hearts between trumpeter, pianist, and bassist. "Loft Funk" written by drummer Mike Clark and Jerd Levy, brings back the sparkling bounce as Essiet holds forth, his cohorts jumping and funking around him, having a particularly playful time. A spirited "Fran Dance," a percolating reverie on Woody Shaw
's "The Moontrane," Harrison's lavish "The Sand Castle Head Hunter" and a punchy nod to Herbie Hancock with "Toys" makes Be Cool
a high point for veteran camaraderie and ensemble playing, with one standout tracking following on the heels of another, leaping from one bedrock to the the next.
Before he walks out the door to his next gig, Henderson says that his wife always advises him to be cool. And you know what the philosopher's have passed down through the ages: "Happy wife, happy life." With it's sweet mix ballads and bop, Be Cool
proves to be, for the moment, Henderson's best. It has taken the words of his missus to heart.