Joe Henderson: Black Narcissus
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Power To The People (MCD-30130-2)
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