Most of Eddie Henderson's fans first heard his hot, dark trumpet in Herbie Hancock's early 70s sextet: on Mwandishi and Crossings, before Hancock trimmed his horn section for Head Hunters, Henderson contributed a tense mixture of Miles Davis's electric soul and the gritty hard bop Davis had left behind. But by the end of the decade he'd all but disappeared from the national jazz scene, moving from New York to the Bay Area, where he practiced medicine. The son of performers (that's his mom sitting on Fats Waller's piano in the classic film short "Ain't Misbehavin'"), he'd always considered music his real vocation, but in California he gigged with local bands and released only a smattering of poorly distributed recordings. So his terrific work on a 1995 disc called Tribute to Lee Morgan (NYC) came as a happy surprise to a lot of folks who'd long ago stopped wondering where he'd gone. Henderson's rebirth ranks among the most welcome developments in jazz over the last ten years: On three subsequent albums under his own name (including this year's Reemergence, on Sharp Nine) he plays with all the power and zeal of his work with Hancock. His progressive, assured, and imaginative improvisations roll out in a glorious sun-splashed tone that recalls Freddie Hubbard's halcyon days, and like Hubbard he seems to dance through his solos, balancing his quick clockwork technique with bursts of bluesy soul. Henderson, who turns 59 next month, can also help fill the notable gap left between seventysomething bebop veterans and thirtysomething wannabeboppers--by drawing on the neglected but radical music of the generation in between. Henderson's quintet appears as part of a tribute to Miles Davis, which includes another quintet, led by keyboardist and Davis alumnus Bobby Irving, as well as the Malachi Thompson Freebop Band, starring superb altoist Gary Bartz. The tribute should be the highlight of the three-day, three-venue Hyde Park/Kenwood Jaaz Festival; the other shows are a Friday big-band concert at the Museum of Science and Industry and a triple bill of female vocalists Sunday at the DuSable Museum of African American History. Saturday, 7 PM, Mandel Hall, University of Chicago, 1131 E. 57th; 773-536-6555. NEIL TESSER
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): phot by Steve Maruta.