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Greetings jazz aficionados, it’s Friday once again and this time with a cool arctic like breeze fills the air to remind some of us particularly southerns autumn has arrived in full bloom. The weekend spin features two of my favorite artists, pianist Rachel Z and the late Joe Henderson on saxophone serves up two incredible yet somewhat diverse recordings. —Rob Young | The Urban Flux

Rachel Z Trio - On The Milky Way Express

Rachel Z Trio -][- On The Milky Way Express (Tribute Music of Wayne Shorter) – [Tone Center, 2000]

Manhattan-born pianist Rachel Z regards veteran saxophonist Wayne Shorter as a genius, whose music “creates a glimpse into the mystical beauty and nature of life” and offers a “reflection of the life condition of enlightenment and love.” Z, the disciple, honors her teacher lovingly and imaginatively on this straight-ahead tribute to Shorter’s talents as a composer. Z, whose approach to classical studies at age 15 was transformed when she heard Shorter’s music on Miles Smiles, was recruited by Shorter to handle orchestrations for his Grammy-winning 1995 contemporary jazz release, High Life. Here, Z addresses 11 of Shorter’s works in a trio setting, joined by bassist Miriam Sullivan (whose credits include work with Wynton Marsalis and Lionel Hampton) and drummer Allison Miller.

Recorded on two-track, their approach is refreshingly spare, earnest, and spirited, making lasting lyrical impressions with their winning interpretations of “Black Nile,” “Three Marias,” and a sagaciously swinging “Witch Hunt.” A night-and-day departure from her smooth-jazz disc Love Is the Power, On the Milky Way Express has such intelligent playing that it’s simultaneously serene and alert, a lesson in composition taught by Shorter and clearly absorbed by his student. —Terry Wood | Amazon.com

Joe Henderson - So Near, So Far

Joe Henderson -][- So Near, So Far (Musing for Miles) – [Polygram Records, 1993]

Albums that purport to do honor to a musician are always a dicey proposition. The obvious question is, why do we want to hear the music redone? Why not just listen to the original? Joe Henderson’s tribute to the artistry of Miles Davis, “So Near, So Far” answers the question by offering fresh takes on key tunes associated with Miles. Henderson’s goal is not imitation; it’s interpretation.

Henderson has been one of my favorite musicians for a long, long time, but he still managed to surprise me with this album. Discarding the aggressive attack he displayed in the Blue Note years, he plays a lot here in the middle to upper register, and his tone in the upper regions is bell-like, his control flawless.

As the best example, check out his work on “Flamenco Sketches,” a key tune from Miles’ “Kind of Blue” release. After John Scofield introduces the haunting melody on guitar, Henderson enters quietly, sketching the theme so delicately on his tenor that it sounds for a moment like a flute.

Another highlight is “Pfrancing (No Blues),” Miles’ tribute to a dancer. Henderson’s tenor dances on this one, as he builds a perfectly arced solo, pushed along by Scofield.

Al Foster on drums and Dave Holland on bass, both frequent collaborators with Miles, also make strong contributions throughout. This is a well-fused quartet, and all the members exhibit a genuine respect for the music without lapsing into a recycling of the tunes.

Scofield remarked in the liner notes that he thinks about Miles every time he plays jazz. The beauty of this album is that it captures the spirit that Miles imparted, and a good part of that spirit is the admonition that every jazz musician must take what he learns to find his own voice. —Tyler Smith | Amazon.com

..:: Source: Amazon.com ::..