52 Jazz Tracks for 2021 (19. ‘Loose Change’ – Joe Henderson, 1985)

The nineteenth of Jon Turney’s weekly selection (introduced HERE) shows the power of simplicity.

Joe Henderson album cover

This Joe Henderson live set reminded many that one of the jazz royalty was still at the peak of his powers. Like Rollins at the the Vanguard, its a saxophone trio to hold in your mind for comparison with all the others. Few come close.

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The towering success of the date had a lot to do with the rhythm section, naturally. Al Foster, the subtlest of drummers, manages to be somehow insistent and unobtrusive at the same time. And Ron Carter’s bass seems the ideal foil for the tenor player. Carter (84 last week) here offers a lesson in rhythm that shows why he features on over 2,000 recordings.

Its an exercise in simplicity. The little riffy pattern pushes Henderson towards his most Rollins-like moments, toying lightly with the basic phrases, moving in and out of rhythm.

All underpinned by the solidity of the bass, repeating its main figure faithfully, while Foster taps rims and makes a small splash on the cymbals. I find it mesmerising – so simple, so steady, with occasional tiny variations when provoked by the saxophonist, always returning to the basic groove. It could hardly be more basic. In the bass solo, Carter essentially ends up by playing rudimentary rock and roll for a few bars.

Loose Change was programmed half way through the first LP from the Vanguard sessions, and the rest of the cuts often do more, musically. But I bet this one is harder to get out of your head.

LINKS: Listen on Spotify More on this recording on Jon’s Bristol Jazz Log Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series Week 18: Lullaby for Igor – Rita Marcotulli and Andy Sheppard Spotify playlist for the series

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