Praise 4 Joe: tribute to Joe Henderson. Luca Mannutza and Max Ionata retrace the musical story of the great American saxophonist, who died in 2001, in the dry form of the duo, through the famous compositions of Joe Henderson and the mature and personal interpretation of the two musicians. The dimension of the duo leads to reasoning on the structures of the pieces and on the absences: giving the right place to all the elements that make up the writing and the execution. Interpreting in duo the songbook of a composer, of an important musician, becomes a further challenge, in making ends meet the needs of a concert, a recording, a performance.
This double-CD features consistently ferocious electric guitar from Scott Henderson. Recorded live at La Ve Lee (a small club near Los Angeles), the extended program has Henderson mostly in the spotlight with electric bassist John Humphrey offering strong support and drummer Kirk Covington sometimes contributing rockish vocals that are as much shouting as they are singing. Henderson plays some jazz on Wayne Shorter's "Fee Fi Fo Fum," digs into blues now and then, and displays some country roots on "Hillbilly in the Band" but mostly plays high-intensity fusion, tearing into the pieces and showing that he could hold his own with any rock/fusion guitarist. Invigorating playing.
When a 20-year-old Patrice Rushen recorded her debut album, Prelusion, in 1974, she was still four years away from becoming a full-time R&B singer. Instrumental jazz was her main focus, and there was every reason to believe that she would become a major figure in the jazz world. The L.A. native showed considerable promise on this entirely instrumental LP, which is best described as straight-ahead post-bop with fusion references and features such impressive soloists as tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, trombonist George Bohanon, and trumpeter Oscar Brashear. Playing both acoustic piano and electric keyboards, Rushen brings a strong Herbie Hancock influence to promising originals like "Haw-Right Now," "Shortie's Portion," and "Puttered Bopcorn."
This is one of the odder Joe Henderson recordings. The four lengthy selections not only feature the great tenor-saxophonist but the piano and harp of Alice Coltrane (during one of her rare appearances as a sideman), violinist Michael White, bassist Charlie Haden, percussionist Kenneth Nash and Baba Duru Oshun on tablas. The somewhat spiritual nature of the music (Henderson's compositions are titled "Fire," "Air," "Water" and "Earth" ) and the presence of Alice Coltrane makes these Eastern-flavored performances rather unique if not all that essential: an early example of world music in jazz. This recording has been reissued as part of Henderson's eight-CD Milestone box set.