Joe Henderson | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Joe Henderson 

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The tenor of our times? Quite possibly: the innovative signals of saxophonist Joe Henderson's luminescent style have long made him a favorite of his fellow musicians. (These include his unflappable and wholly modern swing; his burred, woody tone; the fluttery expressionism of his upper register; and his nomadic improvisations, which seem to sprawl but cut like a scalpel.) In any case, now is this tenor's time: having spent years as a darling of the cognoscenti, Henderson has emerged in the 90s to popular acclaim and two successive Grammy-awarded albums. HIs latest recording, Double Rainbow (Verve), may well continue his streak. It comprises songs by the late Antonio Carlos Jobim, who was scheduled to take part in the project at the time of his illness and death last fall and whose bossa nova hits of the early 60s had a strong impact on Henderson. Jobim ranks with Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, and George Gershwin among the century's great songwriters, and his dozens of familiar, brilliant, and immaculately constructed songs give his legatees plenty to choose from; but any tenor saxophonist taking on this repertoire must deal with the ghost of Stan Getz--one of the most original tenor men of his or any other time--who introduced so many of these songs to the world. Yet Henderson makes these songs completely his own, further proving his status as one of the four or five most original tenor men since Getz. The two saxists do share one stylistic element: an almost introverted sound, in which toughness and vulnerability seem to coexist at all times, that slips effortlessly through the chords of a hollow-body guitar. For this concert, those chords belong to the impeccable Oscar Castro-Neves of Brazil. Saturday, 8 and 10 PM, Park West, 322 W. Armitage; 929-5959 or 559-1212.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/James Minchin.

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