Eddie Henderson – For All We Know – Furthermore Recordings 005, 52:40 ****:
(Eddie Henderson, trumpet and Flugelhorn; John Scofield, guitar; Doug Weiss, bass; Billy Drummond, drums)
Trumpeter Eddie Henderson’s background is a lesson in jazz history. Eddie’s mother was a dancer in the original Cotton Club chorus line. Lena Horne was his mother’s roommate and Bojangles Robinson was his mother’s dance partner. Eddie’s first trumpet lesson was from Louis Armstrong, and Miles Davis stayed with his family in 1957, while playing his Blackhawk engagement in San Francisco.
Eddie joined the Herbie Hancock Mwandishi ensemble in 1970 and has never looked back. Over the last 30+ years he has recorded for many labels including Blue Note and Milestone, and on For All We Know, he makes his recording debut for Furthermore Recordings on a piano-less quartet. The tracks range from Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” to the standards “For All We Know” and “By Myself”; to a reworking of Hancock’s classic “Cantaloupe Island”; and a tribute to Miles Davis, “Missing Miles.” Henderson has often been compared to Davis, as his Harmon muted trumpet and warm, lyrical tone bring to mind the mid 50s Davis’ period.
As recording mates, Henderson uses fellow Juilliard professor, drummer Billy Drummond, as well as bassist Doug Weiss – with whom Eddie played together in Al Foster’s Quartet. The addition of guitarist John Scofield elevates this quartet to a higher level as Scofield’s comping behind Eddie makes the omission of a pianist on the recording irrelevant.
“Jitterbug Waltz” begins with a traditional trumpet solo before Scofield enters with modal fills backed by Drummond’s cymbals. Engineer Joe Marciano has brought Drummond upfront in the mix so even when he plays in a laid back manner he clearly drives the beat. Waller’s memorable melody finds Henderson and Scofield intertwined in an early 70s jazz style reminiscent of Miles and John McLaughlin. Eddie’s wife, Natsuko, wrote “Be Cool” and its title is accurate as its mellow vibe testifies.
“For All We Know” is a lovely ballad and Eddie’s round rich tone goes down like a warm drink on a frosty night. Henderson’s “Sand Storm” quickens the pulse as Eddie blows hot while Drummond kicks things into high gear and John Scofield is locked solidly with the charged tempo.
“By Myself” is a feature for Scofield to shine and his understated but intricate lines elicit the need for close attention. Doug Weiss has several choruses to show off his talents while Scofield comps behind him. Eddie then steps in to raise the energy propelled along by Drummond.
“Cantaloupe Island” is taken at a slow percolated pace with fleeting references to Hancock’s familiar melody. The funk factor is still there but with a guitar greased groove. “Missing Miles” is another Scofield feature with Henderson channeling late 50s Prestige period Davis. Henderson’s “Popo” (his wife’s nickname) is based on the early 80s “U n l” from Miles Davis’ 1983 Star People album, where Scofield teamed with Mike Stern on electric guitar. Book ended with Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” it is a nice way to come full circle and paint an eclectic picture.
After a recent two or three year period, when Eddie Henderson was more of a touring and recording sideman, it’s nice to have him back as a band leader.
TrackList: Jitterbug Waltz, Be Cool, For All We Know, Sand Storm, By Myself, Cantaloupe Island, Missing Miles, Popo
— Jeff Krow