A must for fans, but handle with care!
Gerhard Auer | Leoben, Steiermark Austria | 01/12/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Take the star rating with a grain of salt; this box contains much of the best and some of the worst Henderson ever. - THE KICKER (Disc 1, tracks 1-8), an excellent recording (although is doesn't match the astounding quality of his best Blue Note albums), is easily surpassed by TETRAGON (Disc 1, tracks 9-14 / Disc 2, track 1) - similar, but more exciting and fully satisfying. - The LIGHTHOUSE concert with Woody Shaw on trumpet (Disc 3) is a revelation. The tunes range from old warhorses like 'Blue Bossa' to the almost-fusion 'If You're Not Part Of The Solution...'; superb playing by all involved, and the omnipresent and somewhat anticlimactic electric piano does no harm to the intensity of most of the music. - The IN JAPAN session (Disc 4, tracks 6-8 / Disc 5, track 1) is even better. The VERY Japanese rhythm section (if you know what I mean) provides for a hard driving background for some of Henderson's most outside and most inspired playing; 'Out 'n In' (the title says it all) and especially the scorching 'Junk Blues' scream for the replay button, and there's an interesting version of 'Round Midnight' which reaches a short climax in the middle of the performance. - On IN PURSUIT OF BLACKNESS (Disc 4, tracks 1-5) Henderson flirts with jazz rock again (he doesn't completely cross the line yet), but his hypnotic solos always make up for the change of pace. - BLACK IS THE COLOR (Disc 5, tracks 2-6) and MULTIPLE (Disc 5, tracks 7-9 / Disc 6, tracks 1-2), both featuring Jack de Johnette on drums, mark the real beginning of Henderson's fusion phase. The tunes are less challenging than before, but Henderson sounds absolutely comfortable with them, adapting his playing to the more simple chord changes (by using many arpeggios) but never really surrendering his familiar style. A glance at commercialization, yes, but, apart from some oddities (like some strange, pseudo-experimental soundscapes on BITC), very listenable and never lacking a spark of genius. - The tracks with Flora Purim (Disc 7, tracks 4-7 / Disc 8, tracks 10-12) are a different matter: If you like this kind of music, you'll love these tunes, but Henderson just acts as a session musician here (one of the highest order, though). - The rest of the program ranges from so-so (CANYON LADY: Disc 6, tracks 3-7) or kind of weird but rewarding (ELEMENTS, the encounter with Alice Coltrane: Disc 6, track 8 / Disc 7, tracks 1-3) to utterly unlistenable (BLACK MIRACLE: Disc 8, tracks 4-9). Henderson is let down by his rhythm sections (which were obviously not selected for their suitability but for marketing reasons) more and more; he's arguably the most adaptable saxophonist around, but even he cannot cope with a situation when he has to (?) play with uninspired or incompatible fellow musicians. - - All in all, about one or two of the CDs are seriously flawed, but the first and better half of the material is nothing short of breathtaking; much of the best stuff can't be found anywhere else, and for me much of the jazz rock was a very pleasant surprise. You'll have to decide by yourself whether you want to invest in a highly priced but somewhat uneven collection like this one, but if you want to hear the real apexes of Joe Henderson's output, it comes close to a necessity, at least for the time being."
Just another opinion...
Jean-Jacques Rossatti | BRAZIL | 05/25/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Well, I must say that I am not really having much fun with this material. My main criticism regards the ominous presence of either the horrendous 'electric piano', played by not so great hands, or the equally dreadful 'electric bass', played by either Ron Carter or Dave Holland - a real waste of talent, in other words. Whereas Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and some very few others did record some great fusion albums, in my opinion this is not the case with Henderson. The 69-70 live sessions - Lighthouse/Japan - still very much within the jazz idiom, are particularly marred by the electric piano - they really deserved better...
As for the rest of the sessions, they sometimes have their 'bright moments', but in the average they are quite mediocre. Bad fusion, period.
So, if you ask me: was it worth paying U$30 for 8 cds full of Joe Henderson material? I'd have to scrath my head and say: well, not really. In a sense, it is a real bargain, but in another it is a real letdown. So let us remake the question: is it worth paying U$30 for 8 cds ful of Joe Henderson SEVENTIES material? Place your bets, my friends."
Outstanding box set
Robert Wade Cottingham | Dallas, TX | 03/12/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Tiny, subjective review here: This box set sounds GREAT and has a great vibe. Joe Henderson recorded TONS of great music during The Milestone Years. And this set is available now for $30 for 8 CD's !!! That's all, I just want you to know I'm really enjoying listening to this great set."