Remembering one of the great tenor masters of jazz, saxophonist and educator Paul Carr pays homage to the late Joe Henderson by offering an artful session of hard-driving bop with his third album as a leader on Musically Yours
. He borrows the title from Henderson, who once autographed an album that Carr brought with him to a gig at the now closed Washington, DC jazz club, The One Step Down, where the saxophonist signed "To Paul, Musically Yours, Joe."
Though originally from Houston, Texas, Carr, who came to the DC area to advance his education, still resides there and is director of the Jazz Academy of Music Inc., a non-profit organization which he founded in 2002. Even this accomplishment he partly attributes to Henderson, who taught saxophone lessons and of whom Carr writes, "Joe's musicianship and teaching principles are what I strive for in my musical career."
On this recording, Carr chooses five varied charts from Henderson's book, as well as a couple of originals and one composition each from Cole Porter, Louis Scherr and Tad Dameron. Helping to make this an outstanding project are the world-class players that Carr calls upon for this effort, including trumpeter Terrell Stafford, piano great Mulgrew Miller, finesse drummer Lewis Nash and fellow DC musician, Michael Bowie on bass.
Opening up with the title tune, the Henderson influence is clearly evident in Carr's playing, though he still manages to forge a bit of his own style in the music. This is even more pronounced on Henderson's "Our Thing," where Carr delivers a torrid solo on a swinging number which also features Miller and Stafford in high gear.
The album is replete with noteworthy tunes, of which three of the best are "Black Narcisus," Porter's "Night and Day" and the lyrical original from DC pianist Louis Scherr, "Zsa Zsa," where Henderson appeared as a special guest on the original recording of the piece, and on which Carr, here, interprets admirably.
If however, one has to pick a number which best exemplifies Carr's mastery of his instrument, it might well be his play on one of Henderson's less regarded and played compositions, "Y Todavia La Quiero," a nine-minute burner of an arrangement. The finale finds Carr on a beautiful solo rendition of Dameron's classic "If You Could See Me Now," completing a more than solid set.
Though Joe Henderson is now playing with that big band in the sky, he must be smiling secure in the knowledge that the baton has been passed to a new generation of tenor saxophonists who, thankfully, are as capable and talented as he was. With Musically Yours, Paul Carr reminds us of Henderson and signals that he will carry on in the tradition of the great tenor saxophonists who have left us much to enjoy.