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Joe Henderson in Japan by Joe Henderson

The ‘70s are marked by a unique cultural paradigm. As the decade began, the last solid strains of mainstream jazz, urban R&B, soul, and psychedelic rock were on the wane. By the end of the period, disco had come and gone in a flash. Mainstream jazz was often left to fend for itself in a wasteland distinguished mainly by the existence of Creed Taylor’s CTI label and Columbia Records’ dogged attempts to keep afloat during the changing tides. The fact that this Joe Henderson date, recorded in August of 1971, is not as well known as it should be may speak volumes regarding the jazz man’s woes during this time period. Known more by musicians than fans at large, JOE HENDERSON IN JAPAN is a significant testimonial from one of jazz music’s endearing legends and a constructive snapshot of his live performance potential.

The four lengthy performances included here were recorded at Tokyo’s Junk Club and find Henderson backed by a local rhythm section, with drummer Motohiko Hino going on to become on of his country’s finest players. A sign of the times, we find an electric piano in the line-up, although it doesn’t seem to distract at all from the overall excellence of the date. The opening "’Round Midnight" is a tour-de-force for Henderson, who goes it alone at first with the rest of the crew dropping in a bit later. "Out ‘n’ In" is, of course, a new take on the title track of Henderson’s Blue Note disc IN ‘N’ OUT. The beguiling "Blue Bossa" is another one from the Blue Note days, while the closing "Junk Blues" is a simple 12-bar structure that clocks in at almost fifteen minutes. Throughout the program’s 45-minute duration (you have to wonder why we have no bonus tracks since live dates usually yield a good deal of material) Henderson’s lines crackle with emotion and the backing ensemble more than keeps up with him. Highly recommended.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Joe Henderson
  • CD Title: Joe Henderson in Japan
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2000
  • Reissue Original Release: 1971
  • Record Label: Milestone/OJC
  • Musicians: Joe Henderson (tenor saxophone), Hideo Ichikawa (electric piano), Kunimitsu Inaba (bass), Motohiko Hino (drums)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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