Joe Henderson

Quiet Now: Lovesome Things

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Joe Henderson's entry in Polygram's mellow Quiet Now series focuses on his '90s recordings for the Verve label, a period when the tenor saxophonist had settled gracefully into a well-deserved elder statesman role. This is not to say that these ten performances are unnecessarily staid or conservative; indeed, Henderson's tone was better than ever during this period, and his characteristic soloing style, following the melody fairly closely but unafraid to branch out into uncharted musical waters, is in fine form throughout. The selection is heavy on standards, with highlights including two key tunes from Porgy and Bess and a startlingly impressive recasting of Miles Davis' "Flamenco Sketches" that strips down this classic track from Kind of Blue into an even more minimalist statement that almost approaches Brian Eno-style ambient music in its amorphousness. The album as a whole could stand more innovative moments like that, but as a collection of post-bop ballads, it's sublime. The four albums from which Quiet Now: Lovesome Things is drawn are all worthwhile purchases, but this compilation is both an excellent primer and a fine hour's worth of mood music.

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