Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Joe Henderson - Barcelona (Enja, 1979)

Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson had the benefit of recording for several major labels like Blue Note, Milestone and Verve. In between those tenures, he was a journeyman, recording for a number of labels, like this live album for Enja with Wayne Darling on bass and Ed Soph on drums. This album may have fallen through the cracks but it seems to be unique in Henderson’s catalog and definitely deserves to be heard. The high point of the album is “Barcelona” which was split into two parts on vinyl and equally split here on the compact disc version. Henderson’s tenor saxophone is caustic and rew, reminiscent of Sam Rivers. While the music may not be free in the strictly musical sense, it is certainly unfettered and many liberties are taken. Henderson uses raw swirls of rough sandpaper toned sound and runs it up against bowed bass and unpredictable drumming. In total, “Barcelona” is a towering 27 minute improvisation and a very arresting one at that. The shorter songs that round out the album mine the Mediterranean theme further with tracks like “Mediterranean Sun” and “Y Yo La Quiero (And I Love Her)” sounding like encores after the conclusion of the main event. The liner notes are very brief, offering little information about the recording itself, but presenting an interesting “blindfold test” with Henderson. Interestingly, he is asked about Sam Rivers, and he responds that he believes that Rivers’ biggest impact is as an enabler or catalyst for other musicians rather than a player himself. This album is a fine thing and well worth checking out, if nothing else for the showstopping title track. BTW, if you don't mind downloading an mp3 version, it can be had for the princely sum of $2.76! Barcelona -

Send comments to Tim.