State of the Tenor - Joe Henderson

Stella By Starlight
For me, there aren't really any versions of Stella by Starlight that compare with Miles' Cookin' at the Plugged Nickel in '65, but that's not to say Joe Henderson's read of Stella on the seminal State of the Tenor album doesn't have it's own merits. The rhythm section (Ron Carter and Al Foster) work here may not be as adventurous as Carter with Williams & Hancock, but it's Henderson who really carries this one anyway with his strident, effortless blowing. Punctuated with dense flurries, and the periodic high wail or guttural multiphonic, Joe's solo mostly sails over the changes with a certain continuity that points out the fundamental differences in his approach and that of Miles. Henderson (along with most of the rest of the world, apart from 60's Mingus & Dolphy groups and Rollins, Ware and Elvin Jones (in particular) evoke a much deeper sense of funky, soulful groove and outright wailing swing. The recording of Henderson and Co. here seems much more restrained - not tentative by any means, but just dialed back a few notches. Still technically brilliant and harmonically deft, but just not as raw or fiery as Sonny's trio at the Vanguard. Perhaps a sign of the times - or perhaps an unintended commentary on the State of the Tenor - and State of the Trio - in 1985...

The State Of The Tenor Live At The Village Vanguard, Vol. 1 (Blue Note CDP 7 46296-2)
"Village Vanguard", NYC
1st set, November 15, 1985