Joe Henderson: Isotope




Joe Henderson (tenor sax)


The State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2 (Blue Note)

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Joe Henderson (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass), Al Foster (drums).

Composed by Joe Henderson


Recorded: live at the Village Vanguard, New York, November 16, 1985


Rating: 92/100 (learn more)

"Isotope" first appeared on Joe Henderson's 1964 album Inner Urge, but this version is of special interest because of the way he deconstructs the tune down to the root. In the 1964 version, he played the advanced bop thematic line in unison with a piano. This 1985 version takes the piano out of the equation, leaving it up to the remaining three to fill in the void left by the absence of a comping instrument.

Luckily, he's got Ron Carter to help out. Carter finds the crucial notes for filling out the melody on the bottom end, while Henderson performs that task for the higher registers while simultaneously blowing out quick arpeggios and other expressions. Foster keeps a beat at about double-time the original, adding his accents in appropriate spots to prod along the other two.

"Isotope" was a long-time staple in Henderson's live performances; it was only fitting that he included this in his pivotal performance at the Vanguard. It was a firm signal to the world that through changing tastes in jazz he remained the same old Joe he'd always been.

Reviewer: S. Victor Aaron

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