Mo Joe (Henderson)
Selection 2: Nardis (Miles Davis)
Mike Lawrence (tp) Grachan Moncur III (tb) Joe Henderson (ts) Kenny Barron (p) Ron Carter (b) Louis Hayes (d) recorded Plaza Sound Studios, NYC, August 10, 1967
If there was Life after Bop and Blue Note, it sounded like this. 1967, on the cusp of the changing pathway of jazz, heading full tilt for the fusion-esque Seventies, with its electric instruments and bell bottom trousers. The Kicker was the first in a series of records Henderson would record for Orin Keepnews new label Milestone. Reflecting growing social consciousness, these featured increasingly politicised titles like Black Narcissus, In Pursuit of Blackness, Power to the People, If You are Not Part of the Solution You are Part of the Problem and the rather less succesful follow-up, If You Try to Solve the Problem with The Wrong Solution You Can End Up Makin’ a Helluva Mess.
Looking back, the Sixties were a time people believed that aspiring folk singers and penniless musicians knew best how people should live. Not so different today, except today, the winners get a mansion with pool in the Hollywood hills and all the chocolate they can eat.
Milestone was not Orin Keepnews first venture. As co-founder of Riverside with Bill Grauer, Keepnews had stolen Monk from Prestige, and was responsible for the recording of Bill Evans much-prized Village Vanguard sessions, and many recordings of Cannonball Adderley and Jimmy Heath. The Milestone venture lasted until 1972, when it was swallowed up by the dark side: Fantasy Records of L.A.
Gathering around him some of the best jazz contemporaries who had not moved to Europe – Grachan Moncur, Ron Carter, Louis Hayes – Henderson maintains a steady course. Funk and latin influences started creeping in, but everyone steers well clear of the Free precipice, determinedly mainstream. If you want to express yourself, go stand over there in the corner. Don’t be fooled by the cheesy graphics, this is a greart album choc full of great music, the Blue Note that never was.
One Amazon reviewer provided this blinding insight: “If you are a Joe Henderson fan, you should probably get this one”. Profound. People who like this sort of music will find it just the sort of music they like. Appearing to speak whilst saying nothing is an under-rated ability, and it seems politicians don’t have a monopoly after all.
Vinyl: MSP 9008
US release on the Milestone green label, chronology unclear as there are copies of this Henderson title on at least three different Milestone labels (Hat tip Bob Djukic) – a Yellow/Purple, a Blue, and this Green.
The deadwax no longer contains tantilising information. The manufacture of record covers began looking really cheap from here on, and the design in this case has a very low level of aspiration: man plays saxophone, overlay a psycho-graphics effect, job done.
One of my very first Ebay purchases, knowing very little about sniping, bid increments, a score in single figures. I recall getting very excited in a real-time bidding war, with the result that it cost me more than intended, which, looking back, wasn’t a lot. It also introduced me to the joys of waiting for the postman to call. One of the most important persons in any collectors life, the postman. All that we need now is for someone to invent a 12″ LP sized letter box, as the present one accepts only The Evil Silver Disk.
I imagine my letterbox behaving like a CD caddy. You push an Evil Silver Disk into the letterbox and the caddy tray comes out, rejecting it.