Joe Henderson: Isfahan
Joe Henderson (tenor sax)
Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (Verve 314-511-779-2)
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, September 3, 6 & 8, 1991
Rating: 89/100 (learn more)
In this Ellington/Strayhorn tune, purportedly inspired by the beauty of the Persian city of the same name, we hear the symbiotic pairing of bassist Christian McBride and Joe Henderson on tenor sax creating a beautiful and intimate musical conversation. The song, according to the liner notes, was originally written for Johnny Hodges as a result of influences absorbed while Strayhorn toured Iran with Ellingtonís band in 1963. Whatever the inspiration, this exotic-sounding piece is played to perfection utilizing Hendersonís luxuriously deep and throaty sound and McBride's deft accompaniment. Henderson explores the melody's twists and turns in an adventurous solo sprung from his mindís fertile imagination. McBride supports the masterís endeavors with accomplished walking basslines. When McBride does solo, he leads the tune through his own slightly funky landscape Ė a hint of a New York meets Baghdad adventure Ė that for a time takes the Middle Eastern-sounding melody to a more cosmopolitan place. This detour could for some break the spell of exotica, but surprisingly it leads Joe to a subtle call and response with McBride and a satisfying ending.
Reviewer: Ralph A. Miriello