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Joe Henderson Trio at the Village Vanguard

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villagevanguard-sign.jpg

Twenty-five years ago, November 1985, Joe Henderson and his trio, featuring Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, Ron Carter on double bass and Al Foster on drums performed three days at the famous Village Vanguard in New York City.

state%2Bof%2Bthe%2Btenor.jpg

These concerts were recorded and released by Blue Note and still belong, together with the Sonny Rollins Village Vanguard concert of November 1957, the Coltrane Village Vanguard recordings of November 1961 and the Chick Corea Blue Note Club recordings from 1998, to the best live recordings in Jazz ever.

Joe Henderson Trio at the Village Vanguard - 1985: State of the Tenor

Durium

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villagevanguard-sign.jpg

Twenty-five years ago, November 1985, Joe Henderson and his trio, featuring Joe Henderson on tenor saxophone, Ron Carter on double bass and Al Foster on drums performed three days at the famous Village Vanguard in New York City.

state%2Bof%2Bthe%2Btenor.jpg

These concerts were recorded and released by Blue Note and still belong, together with the Sonny Rollins Village Vanguard concert of November 1957, the Coltrane Village Vanguard recordings of November 1961 and the Chick Corea Blue Note Club recordings from 1998, to the best live recordings in Jazz ever.

Joe Henderson Trio at the Village Vanguard - 1985: State of the Tenor

Durium

My wife and I had just recently been married and we were there. Saw Joe many times, always dug him.

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Well, there's no bigger Joe Henderson fan than I am, but I remember being distinctly disappointed when the first volume of these recordings was released on LP, mostly because Al Foster was so deep in the mix there were times it sounded like a tenor-bass duet record; but also because the playing felt oddly inhibited at times. The hand of the producers was too heavy for me, both in the selection of specific material and the fact that the tunes are kept relatively short to presumably allow for more variety in the tracks; but I think Joe was more comfortable and played better when he knew he could really stretch out. I recall the second volume on LP being slightly better in terms of the sound and livelier performances, but I wouldn't swear to it at this point. While I don't own the double CD, I heard parts of it at one point and recall thinking that the sound was much improved. Can anyone confirm this? I have not heard this music in a long time, so perhaps it is time to revisit.

Frankly, the record from the same period exploring the same aesthetic but with much greater abandon and inspiration is "An Evening with Joe Henderson," with Charlie Haden and Foster, taped at a concert in Italy and released on Red. It may lack the Blue Note pedigree and hype, but the music is way more killin'.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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To follow up on Mark's point - there are lots of other Joe H recordings from this period circulating in "unofficial" format. How do they compare? He sounds relatively restrained compared to his 60s/70s recordings, but was that just him getting older?

Guy

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Beatrice is always welcome (a smart choice to lead the set off with, and maybe the best track from the whole proceedings), but I always find myself wishing there were more (a LOT more) of Joe's own tunes on it. That's MY deepest disappointment with these recordings, and a real missed opportunity if one's looking back on Joe's entire catalog (since this is the only 'official' entry in just the piano-less trio format).

Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if others thought that was the biggest strength of this set; material that isn't just the same old Joe.

1. "Beatrice" (Sam Rivers) - 5:48

2. "Friday the 13th" (Thelonius Monk) - 8:25

3. "Happy Reunion" (Duke Ellington) - 8:39

4. "Loose Change" (Ron Carter) - 7:04

5. "Ask Me Now" (Monk) - 6:06

6. "Isotope" (Joe Henderson) - 10:01

7. "Stella by Starlight" (Victor Young) - 10:18

8. "Boo Boo's Birthday" (Monk) - 7:19

9. "Cheryl" (Charlie Parker) - 7:41

10. "Y Ya la Quiero" (Henderson) - 6:43

11. "Soulville" (Horace Silver) - 5:38

12. "Portrait" (Charles Mingus, Silver) - 7:05

13. "The Bead Game" (Henderson, Lee Konitz) - 9:45

14. "All the Things You Are" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) - 9:00

Isn't "The Bead Game" just a free tune? (My copy isn't handy.) Where's "Black Narcissus" (maybe my favorite Joe tune), or at least a few more of any of a dozen tunes I wish he might have done.

Might have liked it a little more with Haden (or perhaps even Holland), but Ron isn't any kind of problem here.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Beatrice is always welcome (a smart choice to lead the set off with, and maybe the best track from the whole proceedings), but I always find myself wishing there were more (a LOT more) of Joe's own tunes on it. That's MY deepest disappointment with these recordings, and a real missed opportunity if one's looking back on Joe's entire catalog (since this is the only 'official' entry in just the piano-less trio format).

Then again, I wouldn't be surprised if others thought that was the biggest strength of this set; material that isn't just the same old Joe.

1. "Beatrice" (Sam Rivers) - 5:48

2. "Friday the 13th" (Thelonius Monk) - 8:25

3. "Happy Reunion" (Duke Ellington) - 8:39

4. "Loose Change" (Ron Carter) - 7:04

5. "Ask Me Now" (Monk) - 6:06

6. "Isotope" (Joe Henderson) - 10:01

7. "Stella by Starlight" (Victor Young) - 10:18

8. "Boo Boo's Birthday" (Monk) - 7:19

9. "Cheryl" (Charlie Parker) - 7:41

10. "Y Ya la Quiero" (Henderson) - 6:43

11. "Soulville" (Horace Silver) - 5:38

12. "Portrait" (Charles Mingus, Silver) - 7:05

13. "The Bead Game" (Henderson, Lee Konitz) - 9:45

14. "All the Things You Are" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern) - 9:00

Isn't "The Bead Game" just a free tune? (My copy isn't handy.) Where's "Black Narcissus" (maybe my favorite Joe tune), or at least a few more of any of a dozen tunes I wish he might have done.

Might have liked it a little more with Haden (or perhaps even Holland), but Ron isn't any kind of problem here.

"Beatrice" and "Ask Me Now" are the two non-Henderson originals here that remained part of his active repertoire in the last 15 years of his life.

Edited by Mark Stryker

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(since this is the only 'official' entry in just the piano-less trio format).

I think the Red album is "official" too, just not American in origin.

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There's a one-night (club) multi-set date (couple discs's worth, if I recall) that circulates -- from around the time of the Miles tribute album. Can't remember if it was Joe and Scofield plus his regular working rhythm section (no piano), or if it was the actual Miles trib line-up (Sco, Holland, Foster). Either way, Scofield's on it: just ts, g, b, d.

And I don't think they cover even one tune from the Miles project -- it's ALL Joe's regular book, but with a few more of Joe's tunes than was usual (at least from what I've heard) -- perhaps at Scofield's suggestion/influence.

VERY nice to hear Joe backed by a guitar trio. Four or five Joe tunes in there that I don't think I've ever heard Joe play live otherwise.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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I love the State of the Tenor recordings. The playing, the tunes, and the sound is not bad either.

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(since this is the only 'official' entry in just the piano-less trio format).

I think the Red album is "official" too, just not American in origin.

There are two Red albums with the trio: An Evening With Joe Henderson from 1987 and The Standard Joe from 1991. Both have Al Foster on drums. The first has Charlie Haden on bass, the second has Rufus Reid.

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Weird that I just now saw this thread--I had some Henderson CDs out for a Night Lights project and ended up e-mailing Mosaic a few hours ago about Joe's 1990s trio. I remember reading an interview with him in the late 1990s (in one of the mainstream jazz periodicals) in which he expressed disappointment that Verve wouldn't release any live recordings of his then-current working trio. Are there any unreleased live recordings from that trio sitting in the vaults? That was my question to Mosaic...might make for a nice Select if so.

Edited by ghost of miles

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I have a few Henderson concerts from the mid-1990s, but they are all quartet recordings with Bheki Mseleku on piano. In 1998, Joe suffered a career-ending stroke.

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I have a few Henderson concerts from the mid-1990s, but they are all quartet recordings with Bheki Mseleku on piano. In 1998, Joe suffered a career-ending stroke.

Thanks, John L--it's possible I'm remembering incorrectly about a trio and that he was simply referring to his 1990s group in general. I think the interview appeared around 1997, so this would have been before his stroke... he may have been promoting PORGY AND BESS, which had come out around that time. He certainly wasn't dismissing his Verve concept CDs in the interview, but he seemed to feel that his live work of the period better represented his jazz artistry.

Edited by ghost of miles

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Saw Joe here in Kansas City with George Mraz and Al Foster here in KC on Feb. 2nd, 1997 (at the Station Casino), on a double bill with the band from Robert Altman's film "Kansas City".

Joe was also here again in KC, but I can't remember when (and Google isn't helping) probably a year or two before that (I think). He played at the Folly Theater, and I have it on good authority that he wanted to bring his regular piano-less trio - but the director of the Folly jazz series wouldn't let him play without a pianist. I'm sure two or three people here can help me find an approximate date for this, as well as the line-up (it was Joe, plus a piano trio, plus trombone).

I think pianoless trios were a very common format for Joe to perform in all through the 90's (or maybe "not uncommon" is more accurate).

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Saw Joe here in Kansas City with George Mraz and Al Foster here in KC on Feb. 2nd, 1997 (at the Station Casino), on a double bill with the band from Robert Altman's film "Kansas City".

Joe was also here again in KC, but I can't remember when (and Google isn't helping) probably a year or two before that (I think). He played at the Folly Theater, and I have it on good authority that he wanted to bring his regular piano-less trio - but the director of the Folly jazz series wouldn't let him play without a pianist. I'm sure two or three people here can help me find an approximate date for this, as well as the line-up (it was Joe, plus a piano trio, plus trombone).

I think pianoless trios were a very common format for Joe to perform in all through the 90's (or maybe "not uncommon" is more accurate).

I can't be sure, but I really do think Joe was talking about a 1990s trio of his in that article (and how he wished Verve would release live recordings of it). Also can't be sure, but I think the article in which he made his remarks may have been this one:

Samuel Fromartz: Art and Commerce and Porgy and Bess. Joe Henderson's history to date is a story of trail-blazing, standard-setting tenor saxophone improvisations..., in: Jazziz, 15/2 (Feb.1998), p. 58-61

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Henderson's one of those guys who does everything right, but just does not interest me.

somehow he always seems like he's playing at the music instead of inhabiting it.

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I can't be sure, but I really do think Joe was talking about a 1990s trio of his in that article (and how he wished Verve would release live recordings of it). Also can't be sure, but I think the article in which he made his remarks may have been this one:

Samuel Fromartz: Art and Commerce and Porgy and Bess. Joe Henderson's history to date is a story of trail-blazing, standard-setting tenor saxophone improvisations..., in: Jazziz, 15/2 (Feb.1998), p. 58-61

You've probably consulted it but if not, a reminder that jazzdiscography.com Joe Henderson entry is extensive and lists private recordings.

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Henderson's one of those guys who does everything right, but just does not interest me.

somehow he always seems like he's playing at the music instead of inhabiting it.

I'd be interested to know who else in your opinion "does everything right" yet holds no interest for you. Also, can it be verbally explained how one plays "at" the music instead of "inhabiting it"? I know each to his own, but for my money, Joe's '60s Blue Note output in particular, either under his own name or as a sideman for Horace, KD, McCoy, Andrew, constitutes some of the most exhilarating modern jazz I've ever heard and I've put in more than 45 years worth of listening and attending. Obviously, no minds will be changed, I just had to put in a solid word for one of the really great tenor saxophonists of all time.

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Joe's '60s Blue Note output in particular, either under his own name or as a sideman for Horace, KD, McCoy, Andrew, constitutes some of the most exhilarating modern jazz I've ever heard and I've put in more than 45 years worth of listening and attending.

Well put. I completely agree.

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You can add me to the column of folks liking him just fine, but not caring enough to follow his post BN career intently. Just me, not a value judgment.

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I often identify Joe as my all-time favorite tenor player (though sometimes I might say Wayne) -- but I can sympathize with those for whom Joe doesn't float their boat as much.

I'm the same with Coltrane(!), or at least his Atlantic and Impulse years. I only just recently got most of his Prestige sides (the first two of the recent 3 boxes), and do dig them, but for the most part - I've never gotten the Trane bug even one quarter as much as I did and do Joe.

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to answer the prior question about what is meant by he "does everything right, but just does not interest me."

Well, he plays nice notes and proper rhythms, doesn't embarass himself, is a pro and is always prepared.

as for playing "at" the music instead of inhabiting it, harder to define, but clear to me, anyway - it's kind of like those programs that do human speech, everything is correct in terms of pronunciation and grammer, but it sounds programmed and second hand. He is, to me, liked a VERY advanced version of one of those programs (like Sonny Stitt on a bad day).

I'm sure this will piss a few people off, but I am posting here under my first amendement rights. Feel free to dis a few of my favorites (like Dexter Gordon, Oscar Peterson.......) -

Edited by AllenLowe

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I have never heard Joe Henderson to be such a "predictable" player as Allen implies. In fact, one of the things I like about Joe is the sense of unpredictability in his playing - Joe never goes over the edge, but you never quite know where he's going next. I do enjoy Joe's Blue Notes (including the "excellent IMO "State of the Tenor") and early Milestone recordings more than his later Verves.

But hey what do I know - I prefer early Lee Konitz to Dave Schildkraut(them's fighting words!)

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to answer the prior question about what is meant by he "does everything right, but just does not interest me."

Well, he plays nice notes and proper rhythms, doesn't embarass himself, is a pro and is always prepared.

as for playing "at" the music instead of inhabiting it, harder to define, but clear to me, anyway - it's kind of like those programs that do human speech, everything is correct in terms of pronunciation and grammer, but it sounds programmed and second hand. He is, to me, liked a VERY advanced version of one of those programs (like Sonny Stitt on a bad day).

I'm sure this will piss a few people off, but I am posting here under my first amendement rights. Feel free to dis a few of my favorites (like Dexter Gordon, Oscar Peterson.......) -

Well, I'm glad you took the trouble to elucidate what you meant, but again, there will be subjective differences in how one personally applies your definition of "playing at", etc. Peterson to me is the epitome of sounding programmed, even second hand despite the formidable technique, and more importantly has never moved me emotionally, unlike Joe. OP has however, countless times, moved me to lift the needle off the record as I have tried often to grasp his appeal. On the plus side, we both love Dexter!

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re: John's remarks, above:

well, Joe is unpredictable in predictable ways, let us say. That's the way I hear it.

and I would be surprised if you'd heard enough of Schildkraut to make that distinction - but I could be wrong (and we actually had this discussion recently, Larry Kart and I, because it is true that Dave left precious little behind; however I heard him in his living room many times laugh.gif and had enough discussions with the likes of Stan Getz, Billl Evans, Dizzy G., Jackie McLean and Mel Lewis to re-enforce my opinion).

also, Marty, sorry, was just joking - I don't like OP and I find Dexter just always a little too stoned for my taste.

Edited by AllenLowe

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