Picks and Pans Review: So Near, So Far (musings for Miles)

updated 06/07/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/07/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Joe Henderson

Since Miles Davis considered imitation the worst form of flattery, it is fitting that this tribute session does not include a trumpeter. Instead, tenor saxophonist Henderson, guitarist John Scofield, bassist Dave Holland and drummer Al Foster pay homage to their late mentor by taking a refreshing approach to his music.

The group gives new life to some lesser known gems from the Davis songbook, like the hard-swinging "Joshua," the gritty "Pfrancing (No Blues)," and the angular "Side Car." On the more familiar "Flamenco Sketches," Henderson evokes the spirit of Miles with a crisp upper-register statement of the theme and then slides into a breathy lower-register rumination that adds a new layer of romantic melancholy to the song. While Foster keeps a crackling rhythmic fire burning throughout the session, Holland and the ever inventive Scofield lay down open harmonies that allow Henderson to glide across chord changes with balletic grace. Let others sound a trumpet fanfare. Henderson and his bandmates offer a glimpse into Miles's restless soul. (Verve)

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