Collective Portrait, Eddie Henderson’s latest album on Smoke Session Records, is a thorough representation of his net worth as a jazz trumpeter and bandleader. Henderson has an eclectic track record in jazz. He played with Herbie Hancock’s jazz fusion group three years, migrated to Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, and currently is on the front line of the jazz ensemble the Cookers. Henderson was also a big follower of Miles Davis. Throughout “Collective Soul” Davis’s spirit runs deep in Henderson’s horn as he moves effortlessly from jazz fusion to some aggressive post-bop. This 10-track album is a brilliant portrait of Henderson’s eclecticism. There’s some outstanding workmanship from saxophonist Gary Bartz on “Morning Song,” and “Zoltan,” and from pianist George Cables throughout.
Trombonist Steve Turre has an innate understanding of the inner dynamics of post-bop, the blues, and Afro-Cuban jazz. This album is a hybrid of those genres. Spiritman is his latest gem. Turre brings a shaman's spirit to his musical projects. If you go beneath the surface of his music, especially the cuts on this album it is clear Turre loves to swing foremost. His soloing on “Bu,” “Funky Thing,” and “Blues for Trayvon” is sufficient proof of that. This is an album devoid of imperfections. Some of the love should go to Turre’s pit crew pianist Xavier Davis, saxophonist Bruce Williams, bassist Gerald Cannon, drummer Willie Jones III, plus a cameo by percussionist Chembo Corniel. With that kind of muscle, hell was bound to break loose on this album.
Wes Montgomery in the beginning, a two-disc set soon to be released by Resonance Records, has some of Wes Montgomery's recordings with the Montgomery-Johnson Quintet Buddy Montgomery, Monk Montgomery, Alonzo “Pookie” Johnson and Sonny Johnson. The first disc was recorded live in 1956 at the Turf Club and the second disc in 1958 at the Missile Lounge. The sound quality is such you feel as if you’re present, listening to Montgomery pour his heart all over his guitar. “Wes Montgomery in the beginning” is worth standing in line for. You get to experience Montgomery as a wet-behind-the-ears-hell-raiser and bandleader. Also, the set comes with an informative companion booklet. While you listen to selections such as “After You Have Gone,” “Going Down to Big Mary’s,” and “Carlena’s Blues,” you can read about Montgomery’s early years before he was a household icon.