Joe Henderson: Black Narcissus


Black Narcissus


Joe Henderson (tenor sax)


Power To The People (MCD-30130-2)

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Joe Henderson (tenor sax), Herbie Hancock (electric piano), Ron Carter (bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums).

Composed by Joe Henderson


Recorded: New York, May 29, 1969


Rating: 96/100 (learn more)

Jazz was changing rapidly as the '60s turned into the '70s, and Joe Henderson was present for much of it; he participated in Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay and Herbie Hancock's Fat Albert Rotunda, after all. But while Henderson was open for electric instrumentation in his own work, he also steadfastly refused to commercialize his music.

Henderson's first departure from an all-acoustic format as a leader came in the guise of a beautiful tone poem he wrote called "Black Narcissus." The only plugged-in instrument may have been Herbie Hancock's Fender Rhodes, but it was critical in giving the song a warm glow. Combined with Ron Carter's delicately plucked high notes, the song has an ethereal soundscape upon which Henderson quietly drops his notes.

"Black Narcissus" is less about Henderson's considerable sax skills than about his acumen in sketching atmospheric pieces. As far as those go, this is one of his best.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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  • 1 Chris Burnett // Dec 27, 2008 at 05:27 PM
    "Black Narcissus" remains one of my favorite Joe Henderson compositions and the inherent qualitites of the work make it one of the most timeless pieces in modern music. Many of Joe Henderson's compositions can be considered "new standards", with the subtle "Black Narcissus" among the best of his work... Peace, Cb