A member of Herbie Hancock’s early 70s Mwandishi sextet, trumpeter Eddie Henderson revels in his acoustic hard bop roots on Be Cool. Leading a dream team of pianist Kenny Barron, alto saxophonist Donald Harrison, bassist Essiet Essiet, and drummer Mike Clark, Henderson interprets classics like Woody Shaw’s surging “The Moontrane,” Miles Davis’ jaunty “Fran Dance,” and John Coltrane’s hauntingly beautiful “Naima” in this 2-LP vinyl set that’s also available on CD. Barron’s soul-jazz groover “Smoke Screen” has the leader and Harrison tossing off bristling solos over a funk groove. The title track is a 13-bar mid-tempo swinger that finds Henderson and Harrison nonchalantly double-timing over Essiet’s insistent walking and Clark’s ride cymbal pulse. The quintet takes “After You’ve Gone” at a snail’s pace, showcasing the full breadth of Henderson’s warm tone and balladic powers. Henderson pays homage to Miles Davis with some delicious muted trumpet work on a faithful rendition of “Fran Danc” while “Naima” is given a swinging waltz-time treatment. The ensemble plays Hancock’s dynamic “Toys” with a sense of blue-tinged abandon, and “Nightride” features some of Henderson’s most heartfelt and lyrical playing of this very rewarding session.
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