Johnny Come Lately
A Flower Is a Lovesome Thing
Take the "A" Train
Drawing Room Blues
U.M.M.G. (Upper Manhattan Medical Group)
In 1992, Verve threw veteran Joe Henderson in the studio with a pack of young lions and asked him to play a collection of Billy Strayhorn songs. Henderson and crew emerged with a beautiful recording that showcases Henderson's versatile tenor, the passion of the younger players, and the emotional appeal of Strayhorn's compositions. A large part of the success is owed to the strategy of mixing up the instrumentation: the album includes one solo, three duets, two trios, one quartet, and three quintets (with Wynton Marsalis's burnished trumpet), each leading Henderson in a different direction. The true highlights are the pared-down ensembles. "Isfahan," a duo with Henderson and bassist Christian McBride, finds Henderson coaxing some lovely, light-and-airy sounds from his tenor. On "Rain Check," a trio with McBride and drummer Greg Hutchinson, Henderson flies into the stratosphere with probing statements, and on "Lotus Blossom," a duet with pianist Stephen Scott, Henderson's quiet flurries are supported by Scott's elegant reading. Henderson stokes the engine with intense, far-reaching ideas on "Take the 'A' Train," a duet with Hutchinson, and teases the melody playfully on the abstract title track, taken here as a solo.