A lexicon is defined as a word list or vocabulary pertaining to a specific subject. The recorded music contained herein is a sort of lexicon which draws upon the vocabulary of the jazz tradition. Because this recording date was not exactly planned (it came about as a result of a series of coincidences) the musicians involved had to refer to the same musical lexicon in order to communicate successfully with one another and ultimately with you, the listener. I think the music will support this thesis. One interesting note is that this recording occurred just two weeks after Joe Henderson recorded Lush Life for Verve. Lush Life has often been mentioned as Joes comeback album. If this recording is any additional evidence, it seems that Joes comeback is warranted and long overdue. A brief summary of the compositions follows:
Lexicon * (7:26) by Renee Rosnes- This piece is a multi-metered variant of a basic 12 bar blues. It evokes memories of the music recorded some years ago by McCoy Tyner on his outstanding Blue Note release The Real McCoy. Interestingly, Joe Henderson was on that recording also. The band sizzles.
Con Alma (9:52) by Dizzy Gillespie- Loosely translated, con alma means with soul. This version reveals two facets of the jazz soul, one being the dreamy jazz waltz and the other being a driving and ever intense 4/4 swing. If I may say so, lyricism pervades throughout. Listen to the marvelous manner in which Lewis Nash inspires and compliments the soloists. He is a rare treasure, in any and all musical contexts. God bless him.
Caravan * (8:32) by Juan Tizol- This classic made famous by the Duke Ellington Orchestra is a suitable means by which Joe Henderson reveals his snake charmer tendencies.
I'm Getting Sentimental Over You (4:47) by George Bassman, words by Ned Washington - This piece served as Tommy Dorseys theme song during the World War II era. When I hear it, it recalls the memory of some of my predecessors who have always served as great inspirations to me, including: Jimmy Blanton, Oscar Pettiford, Sam Jones (touching, Homes!!!!!), Red Mitchell, and countless others.
All Too Soon (8:04) by Duke Ellington - This beautiful, seldom played standard was taught to me by the legendary pianist Al Haig. I had the honor of being his bassist for two years at One Fifth Avenue in New York City in the early 1980s. Thanks Al, for teaching me this tune and many other invaluable musical lessons. Say hi to Bird next time you see him.
Summer Serenade (5:07) by Benny Carter- Benny The King Carter has written literally hundreds of compositions and lyrics, many of which are deserving of much wider recognition. Benny- please forgive the brisk tempo here- it just sort of happened!!!!!
Cancion Para Cadiz * (10:38) by Todd Coolman- This piece was inspired by an impromptu performance I heard in the south of Spain some years ago. I was invited to hear two young Spanish brothers (ages 10 and 12) play Flamenco guitar while their father sang traditional Andaluzian songs. The depth of musical expression that I experienced that night is something rarely heard and is equally unforgettable.
You Go To My Head (6:14) by J. Fred Coots- The venerable standard is performed here in a fairly straight ahead piano trio format. I have always found this tune to be a challenging vehicle for improvisation.
One For Walton (5:28) by Renee Rosnes- This second of two Rosnes originals on this recording is a musical tribute to one of the finest pianist/composers of the modern era, Cedar Walton. Renee has obviously assimilated Cedars eloquence and clarity of expression as both pianist and composer. She is simply one of my all-time favorite musical collaborators, bar none.
A few parting thoughts: The twentieth century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein has often illustrated the shortcomings of both written and spoken language. When I try to think of ways to express my gratitude for the extraordinary contributions of Joe, Renee, and Lewis, I am aware that Wittgenstein was right. It is my sincere wish that the musical language (lexicon, if you will) contained in this recording somehow transcends the written and spoken word. I am blessed to have the opportunity to attempt this on a daily basis through jazz and my many gifted and dedicated musical associates.