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Eddie Henderson: Collective Portrait

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In 2014, its first year, Smoke Sessions Records released nine titles recorded live at the Upper West Side club that gave the label its name. Now, with its first two releases of 2015, the fledgling label is setting up its recording equipment outside of its own walls for the first time. These two titles, led by trumpeter/flugelhornist Eddie Henderson and trombonist/shells master Steve Turre, were recorded last spring at Sear Sound’s Studio A in New York City.

As with all of the previous Smoke Sessions releases, Henderson’s and Turre’s boast closely mic’d, in-your-face sound. Each instrument comes through with clarity and crispness, with just enough bleeding of sound so as not to be sterile. And extra baggage is avoided: In the liner notes, Henderson recalls that when he recorded his Sunburst album in 1975, he’d just availed himself of several electronic gizmos: wah-wah pedal, phase shifter, etc. But the version of “Sunburst” that opens Collective Portrait dispenses with period affectation, presenting the self-penned tune as an easy-grooving showcase for Henderson, alto saxophonist Gary Bartz and pianist George Cables.

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