Joe Henderson: Mode For Joe


Mode for Joe


Joe Henderson (tenor sax)


Mode for Joe (Blue Note 5918942)

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Joe Henderson (tenor sax), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Bobby Hutcherson (vibes), Cedar Walton (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Joe Chambers (drums).

Composed by Cedar Walton


Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, January 27, 1966


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Cedar Walton is no minor composer, but he may have reached the pinnacle with "Mode for Joe." Chords gracefully ascend and descend, and optimal use is made of spacing and timing. The expanded horn ensemble along with Hutcherson's vibes gives the song the elegant heft it demands, without being too large to play nimbly.

This song isn't perfect just because Walton scored it flawlessly, though. "Mode" is a signature Joe Henderson performance as well. In the midst of the call and response between Henderson and the rest of the front line, the leader shocks the listener by inserting some rough, dissonant lines that he repeats precisely as played the first time. His solo that follows is likewise a mixture of cool, precise phrasing with loosely conceived statements punctuated by coarse honks.

Like the great painter Picasso, Joe Henderson combines the odd with the beautiful to create something oddly beautiful.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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