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RH Positive by Robert H. Henderson

Drummer Robert Henderson works the Philly scene with his group The H Factor, but for his second release as a leader he goes a bit further afield than his performing trio to get support. Bassist Pete Colangelo is part of the regular lineup, but there are a pair of guest pianists, Paul Pelusi and Thomas Lawton, trading off tracks and nine of the thirteen cuts feature the tenor sax of Larry McKenna.

Whether with the trio or the quartet, Henderson is a solid and tasteful player, and his regular work with Colangelo pays off as the pair have the kind of musical sympathy that distinguishes truly solid rhythm sections. The album notes cite influences including Kenny Clarke and Art Blakey, but attentive listeners will likely find a hint of Philly Joe in Henderson's style, as well. McKenna is a creative player with a strong, disciplined tone, and is particularly effective on the ballads that Henderson seems to favor for this recording. Both Pelusi and Lawton are equally effective in their roles.

The material consists of standards from the books of composers ranging from Hoagy Carmichael (there are, in fact, two takes of "Star Dust," and I wouldn't choose one over the other either) and Cole Porter to Thelonious Monk and Bill Evans. Noteworthy is the inclusion of a pair of tracks by a less famous name, though no less a talent, Burton Lane, composer of "That Old Devil Moon" and "This Lady's In Love With You."

RH Positive is a strong set of straight ahead jazz by strong regional players deserving of wider attention.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Robert H. Henderson
  • CD Title: RH Positive
  • Genre: Straight-Ahead / Classic
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: Philly Breakdown
  • Rating: Four Stars
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