101

Ernie Henry: Presenting

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Long available on LP in the Fantasy Records catalog this reissue marks the first compact disc appearance of Ernie Henry’s auspicious debut as a leader. In the annals of jazz lore Henry has sometimes been discounted as merely a Charlie Parker imitator on alto saxophone. Based on his work on this inaugural album and the handful of others he fronted as a leader before his early demise at age 31 this once popular opinion appears something of an unfair assessment. In addition to possessing an adroit and diplomatic tone on his instrument that nods at Parker, but is clearly his own, Henry also has impeccable taste in associates as substantiated by the crew of hard bop heavyweights he assembled for this date. Dorham and Drew are both in particularly fine form and Ware and Taylor leave a memorable rhythmic stamp on the proceedings. The disc also serves as a chance for Henry to try out a cluster of his own compositions alongside a pair of standards and the quintet seizes the opportunity to play hard and with much gusto.

Commencing with a bop-flavored reading of “Gone With the Wind” the group cycles through a unison head before Henry, Dorham and Drew all take brief solo statements. Taylor is the focal point on the briskly rendered “Orient” and his series of volcanic press rolls that close the piece take things out in a heated finish. “Free Flight” is less overtly kinetic but follows basically the same succession of solos with Henry, Dorham, Drew, Taylor and even Ware turning in burners. Both “Checkmate” and “Active Ingredients” are cut from the same bop-textured cloth and Henry uses their inherent alacrity to turn the pace of the group up a notch. The cerulean smoothness of “I Should Care,” negotiated at ballad speed, stands in sharp contrast. Henry takes an initial solo chorus before Dorham moves to the fore and caresses one of his most successful solos of session from his horn. The shuffling blues groove of “Cleo’s Chant” serves as a fitting addendum. Henry preaches a persuasive pitch and Dorham and Drew answer with resoundingly unanimous agreement. The only glaring disappointment with this disc is the paucity of solos by Ware. One of the greatest bassists in the history of the instrument he often shied away from the solo spotlight on his numerous recordings as a sideman. On this session he exhibits his usual reticence and Henry’s arrangements offer little encouragement for him to step beyond a strictly rhythmic role. Overall though this is a fine slice of vintage hard bop with lots of high points and very few lows.


Track Listing: Gone With the Wind/ Orient/ Free Flight/ Checkmate/ Active Ingredients/ I Should Care/ Cleo

Personnel: Ernie Henry- alto saxophone; Kenny Dorham- trumpet; Kenny Drew- piano; Wilbur Ware- double bass; Art Taylor- drums.

Title: Presenting | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Fantasy Jazz


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Déjà Vu CD/LP/Track Review Déjà Vu
by Troy Dostert
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts CD/LP/Track Review Woody Guthrie - The Tribute Concerts
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Two in a Box CD/LP/Track Review Two in a Box
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Discussions CD/LP/Track Review Discussions
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 20, 2017
Read Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard CD/LP/Track Review Just Friends: Live at the Village Vanguard
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: September 19, 2017
Read Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio CD/LP/Track Review Introducing the Simon Eskildsen Trio
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: September 19, 2017
Read "April" CD/LP/Track Review April
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 29, 2017
Read "More Figs And Blue Things" CD/LP/Track Review More Figs And Blue Things
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 3, 2016
Read "Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959" CD/LP/Track Review Swiss Radio Days, Vol. 40 - Zurich 1959
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: June 7, 2017
Read "Floating City" CD/LP/Track Review Floating City
by James Nadal
Published: March 9, 2017
Read "Intenso!" CD/LP/Track Review Intenso!
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 1, 2016
Read "The Space Between" CD/LP/Track Review The Space Between
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 22, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.