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Ernie Henry: Last Chorus

Henry’s death in late 1957 left a projected octet record half-completed. The presence of Melba Liston and Benny Golson assures state-of-the-art arranging and a couple of fine originals, and the all-star-caliber group featuring Morgan, Payne, Kelly, Chambers, and Jones is easy to love. Henry was like Jackie McLean squared, with an even more painfully blues-drenched cry. His last playing shows enhanced facility and confidence, but the fact that this record is filled out with a couple of alternates and tracks from earlier dates puts it in the buy-the-other-stuff-first category. Start with the absolutely spectacular Two Horns, Two Rhythms Kenny Dorham date and you will work back to this one depressingly quickly. In many ways, Ernie Henry is everything modern jazz has lost.

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