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Imitation may not be the best form of flattery, as trumpeter Eddie Henderson found out several years ago when he learnt a couple of Miles Davis tunes right off the record, thinking that he would impress Davis (who was not). Now years into the future, he breathes his own spirit into them.
Henderson is erudite. His tone can wallow resplendently in the lyrical and then suddenly scoot off into a convoluted alleyway or spew trills. All are connected by the umbilical cord of his imagination. Pianist David Kikoski can be an ardent innovator or he can open an idea with delicious deliberation. He loosens a slew of energetic ideas on “Footprints,” an approach that is countered by Ed Howard as he eases the pace. The bassist sets it up for the gentle ablutions of Henderson, who soon gets abrasive. The impression left behind is varied but nevertheless affecting. Saxophonist Bob Berg, big-toned and inspired, churns a gradually escalating and penetrating attack that is constantly propelled by Billy Hart. His presence is also marked on “’Round Midnight,” where he jumps off the fat sound of Henderson's long, sustained growl on the flugelhorn and grounds it in thick, hard, swinging lines that shape the tune anew.
Two of the songs on which Henderson uses the mute contrast this approach. He uses a slivery tone on “Someday My Prince Will Come,” stretching tensile lines of harmonic and melodic fervency. “On Green Dolphin Street” is introduced by Kikoski in a dreamy, unhurried manner. Victor Lewis jiggles the rhythm and Henderson traipses in (there are no eggshells here!), putting a snap into his discourse and kicking the tempo uphill with Kikoski. But wait, Kikoski brings it back again and, having made his play, ups the speed again. Varied cadences nestle snugly and appetizingly. This is a well-balanced album that grabs both the pungent and the euphoric.