Joe Henderson: Blue Note and Beyond
Stereophile|February 2022
REDISCOVERIES
KEN MICALLEF

Called “the phantom” by fellow musicians and dubbed the “bearded, goateed astronaut of the tenor sax” by a close friend, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, the enigmatic Joe Henderson recorded five albums for the Blue Note label that are uniformly regarded as jazz classics. Mosaic Records has gathered those records— Page One, Our Thing, In ’n Out, Inner Urge, Mode for Joe—plus Henderson’s sideman dates and alternate takes for Blue Note for a limited-edition, five-CD box set, The Complete Joe Henderson Blue Note Studio Sessions (Mosaic Records MD5-271).

Henderson’s music on Blue Note is cerebral but earthy; his dark, arid saxophone gusts soar with friendly ferocity. Such Henderson standards as “Blue Bossa,” “Recorda Me,” “Caribbean Fire Dance,” “Punjab,” and “A Shade of Jade” share the rare quality of sounding eternally fresh, inner seams bristling with energy and Henderson’s unique sonic logic.

Mastered from 24-bit transfers from Rudy Van Gelder’s original tapes, the discs all sound clear, rich, and dynamic, and the box is still available. Grab yours while you can, though: It’s a limited edition, and if you want a physical copy of this music (as opposed to streaming), it’s hard to find elsewhere. Are you listening, Blue Note?

1968 marked the end of Henderson’s contract with Blue Note—regrettable, since his music fit well there—but his career lasted decades longer. His subsequent recordings for Milestone, Red, Enja, Contemporary, and MPS reveal a fertile, restless composer who embraced new sounds and styles within magnetic compositions and an increasingly avantgarde style.

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