Although endowed with a full, rounded sound, good intonation, and chops to spare, trumpeter Eddie Henderson had the misfortune to enter the business at a time when hopes were running high for fusion. Born in 1940, he had benefited from solid training on his horn at an early age, met his parents' friend Miles Davis before even knowing of this jazzman's significance, and later had the chance to get playing tips from Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. It is not unexpected, then, that we hear in Henderson's playing today many allusions to these giants, not so much in directly quoted phrases as in passing mannerisms-a particular hue given a certain note or combinations of notes, a technical flourish here or there, a hint of a characteristic vibrato, or even the lack of one. This is what is rightly called stylistic assimilation, or the blending together of one or more influences with one's own musical personality.
Perhaps because of his premature, exploitative exposure as a post-Miles, post-Hubbard, post-Hancock fusion-styled recording star, Henderson lost his credibility as a serious jazz artist even before having had a chance to introduce himself properly. But, thankfully, that dreadful decade between the late '60s and late '70s is now long behind us. With this appropriately titled recording, Henderson can finally make his belated entrance on the pure jazz scene, one accompanied by not so much as a Gilda Radner-like "Never mind!"
With vibist Joe Locke, pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Ed Howard, and drummer Billy Drummond, all members of the trumpeter's working quintet, Eddie alternately bites into and soars over the provocative changes of Wayne Shorter's "This Is for Albert," his own "Dreams" and "Natsuko-San," Woody Shaw's "Sweet Love of Mine," Locke's "Saturn's Child," and a millennium tribute to Gershwin in the form of a medley comprising "The Man I Love," "Summertime," "It Ain't Necessarily So," and "Embraceable You," all of which are treated to harmonically fresh reinterpretations.