Credit where it’s due, and lots of it to share here: to Joe Henderson, first and foremost, for surviving, for remaining musically restless, for reasserting what it means to be a bandleader-and for putting together such a phenomenal band to lead; to the canny folks at Verve, for working with their artists to rebuild the linkages between memorable recordings and memorable live performances; to pianist Tommy Flanagan, for elegance above and beyond the call of duty, including a wonderful echo of Gil Evans’ arrangement of “Summertime;” to bassist Dave Holland and drummer Jack DeJohnette, each the leading practitioner of his craft today, for breathing such rich rhythmic life into these interpretations of the Gershwin classics; to John Scofield, for brilliant role-playing and solo brilliance-on-demand; to Chaka Khan for a wonderfully restrained reading of “Summertime,” that yet brims with feeling. Honorable mention to Sting for his struggle with the theatrical nature of “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” arguably the most difficult part to pull off in this distillation of what is, after all, an opera. In summation, then: how suite it is!
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