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Eddie Henderson: Witness To History

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Eddie Henderson: Witness To History
Make no mistake: it is the hot buttered soul, "Shaft"-like theme of "Scorpio Rising" that first snags one's attention. But once snagged, the old cool sets in and Witness To History, trumpeter Eddie Henderson's self curated soundtrack, unwinds with a wicked fervor. A deep, wicked joy.

Henderson—who has pretty much seen it all from the impulsive, jazz rock Realization (Capricorn, 1973) through The Cookers to the still palpable Shuffle and Deal (Smoke Avenue, 2020)—looks back for a PBS documentary due for release in early 2024 and knows for sure he has had a good run. He then intuitively and soulfully gathers a few wily and confident cohorts and it is away to the races.

But it is not that frantic metro influencer gallop for this crew. Not by any means. These cats are all pure blue, after-hours shuffle. Because not only is Henderson, now in his eighty-third orbit, at a zenith in said orbit, ditto that of Donald Harrison's blue venue sax and George Cables' pianistic touch. Splice all that in with the interstitial elasticity of bassist Gerald Cannon and drummers Lenny White andMike Clark and "Scorpio Rising" becomes an infectious roll through the back alleys of late 1970s urban noir. The liquid gold of "I'm Gonna Miss You, My Darling ," written by the trumpeter's wife, beautifully occurs.

It is very hard to learn that everyone should lay back on the groove, but to this group it is a banner taken into battle. A badge of honor. Witness To History is full of badges and banners. First heard on Lee Morgan's eventful The Sidewinder (Blue Note, 1964), "Totem Pole" holds all the flash and slink of the original but with its own immediate vibe. Cables' jumpy "Why Not" is a slow steamer highlighted by trumpet and saxophone punching the air. As it should be, "Sweet and Lovely" is all trad jazz with Cannon in the lead.

Maybe when and if it all becomes accountable, Witness To History does not stand the test of time. Maybe it does. The same can be said for all and any of us. But that does not make Witness To History any less of great record. In fact it just being makes it all that much better.

Track Listing

Scorpio Rising; Why Not?; Sweet and Lovely; It Never Entered My Mind; Freedom Jazz Dance; I'm Gonna Miss You, My Darling; Totem Pole; Born to Be Blue.

Personnel

Additional Instrumentation

Mike Clark: drums (1).

Album information

Title: Witness To History | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Smoke Sessions Records


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