Joe Henderson – Joe Henderson In Japan (1971)

In front of a small and ecstatic Japanese audience, this Polaroid snapshot of Joe Henderson performing with a great pick-up backing band in a cramped Tokyo jazz bar is simply awesome. The intimate atmosphere is immediately established by the applause he receives after the opening phrase of ‘Round Midnight’ and the interplay between the players and the gathered fans is sustained through the entire set. Just when they have been seduced by a soulful and beguiling build-up the intensity suddenly turns on a sword’s edge. The musicians get right up behind Henderson as he launches into a solo akin to turning on a tap full of fire whereby every person in that room is sucked into his sonic swirl. Howls of encouragement punctuate the frequent highlights from each of the performers throughout the set. The keyboardist is especially inspired during ‘Out ‘n’ In’ and the all guns blazing improvised finale ‘Junk Blues’ elicits a tumultuous drum solo that leads to a searing coda and everyone in the audience loses it. A pinnacle for Henderson.




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