The start of a great run of genius from Joe Henderson – plus a seminal 80s return to form – served up here on five different albums recorded for Blue Note! First up is Our Thing – a classic straight session by Joe Henderson – cut during his early years, when he was breaking out of the box with a heck of a lot of fire! Kenny Dorham's subdued lyricism complements Joe's impassioned playing over the angular, yet still-swinging rythm section of Andrew Hill, Eddie Kahn and Pete La Roca. The track "Pedro's Time" reflects Joe's fascination with Latin-flavored pieces (as evidenced by Joe's previous effort Page One, and his work on Dorham's Una Mas), while pieces like "Teeter Totter", "Our Thing" and "Back Road" play with time and structure in subtle ways. In N Out is a stone killer from the early Blue Note years of tenorist Joe Henderson – a key example of why the label had so much faith in him right from the start, and why Henderson's horn was quite different than so many other players of the 60s! Echoes of "new thing" modes lie in the background of the record, but upfront things have a sharp 60s Blue Note punch – thanks in part to a great lineup that also includes Kenny Dorham on trumpet, McCoy
Tyner on piano, Richard Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums. Henderson's tone is rough and young – but in a great way, one that's perfect for the exploratory nature of his original tunes on the set, and which matches the mood of Dorham's compositions as well. Tracks include "In N Out", "Short Story", "Brown's Town", and "Punjab". Inner Urge is a fantastic session of 60s "new thing" jazz – and one of our favorite early records by Joe Henderson! The album features some incredibly hard playing from Joe – with a very dark edge to his solos that's nicely offset by McCoy
Tyner's lyrical piano, and the supple rhythms of Bob Cranshaw and Elvin Jones. It's hard to look at the lineup and not feel this group is approaching the tunes in a very post-Coltrane mode, but Henderson's voice on the tenor is completely singular, and puts that short-sighted theory to rest with his first bold note of the session. The album features 5 numbers in all – 3 originals showcasing Henderson's strong songwriting "Inner Urge", "Isotope" and "El Barrio" – plus the great Duke Pearson ballad "You Know I Care" and the standard "Night & Day". Last up are the two live Village Vanguard albums State Of The Tenor Vols 1 & 2 – a real moment of genius for Joe Henderson from the 80s – a spare trio session, recorded live at the Village Vanguard, in a mode that recalls Sonny Rollins classic sets there for Blue Note! And while Sonny often performed heavily in a trio setting, unfettered by chords in the rhythm section – this is a unique date for Joe, and he sounds brilliant throughout! Ron Carter and Al Foster provide a crisp but elastic foundation for Henderson's burnished melodies and solos in a very spacious setting. Titles include"The Bead Game", "Soulville", "Portrait", "Beatrice", "Friday The Thirteenth", "Happy Reunion", "Loose Change", "Ask Me Now" and "Isotope".