Jazz Album of the Week: Be Cool, with Eddie Henderson and Friends

Apr 30, 2018

April 30, 2018. In his heyday, trumpeter Eddie Henderson was a famous multitasker. He practiced general medicine by day, and played jazz at night. Eddie’s new release Be Cool is a multitasker of an album.

Be Cool touches on music from different points in Henderson’s career, and features original compositions from the powerhouse band that backs him. Big Chief Donald Harrison is on alto sax, NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron is on piano, while bassist extraordinaire Essiet Essiet and drummer Mike Clark hold down the rhythm.

Back in the ‘70s, Henderson was known for producing some funky sounding (in a good way) albums; this one gets him back to his roots.

Henderson's first big gig was with Herbie Hancock and a great rendition of “Toys” appears here.  Eddie also gives his own treatment to “Fran Dance,” a nod to one of his biggest influences, Miles Davis.

The band gives some soul to Kenny Barron’s “Smoke Screen,” and “Loft Funk” is pretty self-explanatory, as written by Mike Clark and Jed Levy. With Donald Harrison’s “The Sand Castle Head Hunter,” the group even touches on some of the abstract.

The sound of this album is straight-ahead, and in line with whatever Eddie touches there’s a little bit of funk, and a little bit of blues.

Henderson revisits the title track of this record, which was a written for him by his wife, Natsuko Henderson and recorded back in 2009. It’s totally recognizable, but this new version has that certain something to it.

The liner notes taught me a new term—"Hendersonian.” If you’re wondering what that means, check out Eddie Henderson's Be Cool.