Throughout his long and still-escalating career, Joe Henderson has consistently been recognized by fellow musicians as one of the most impressive and imaginative improvisers in the entire history of the tenor saxophone, as a player with an understanding of a broad range of jazz styles, and as one of the most intriguing and melodic of jazz composers. Some of the more astute critics and listeners have shared these strong opinions, but for the most part--; until his sudden ascent to wide popularity in the early Nineties--;
remained a fairly well-kept secret.
Beginning in 1967, a full decade of his rewarding but pre-fame years was spent recording for Milestone Records and producer Orrin Keepnews. His 12 albums during that period (together with some notable appearances as a featured sideman with Nat Adderley, Lee Konitz, and Flora Purim, plus a few previously unissued numbers) have been compiled into this eight-CD, 82-selection box.
It is a startling collection of talent and virtuosity, assembled by the original producer, who points out
’s command of virtually every facet of the contemporary jazz idiom. "We made every possible kind of album--; except a hit," is how Keepnews puts it. His comment is under-lined by the presence of a supporting cast that ranges from Herbie Hancock to Alice Coltrane, and stylistic variations that take him from straight-ahead to avant-garde, with excursions into funk, Latin jazz, multiple overdubbing, and a brilliant group of live recordings featuring the late trumpet virtuoso Woody Shaw.