Reprinted from yesterday's late eidtions.
The last time saxophonist Joe Henderson was in Washington was the night of the Watergate break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters.
"i was staying at the Watergate Hotel and playing at Howard University that night," he recalled. "It was freaky - I read about the break-in the next day in Chicago."
This time he's performing at Blues Alley (through Saturday) and staying elsewhere. Otherwise, his music is just as interesting - and swinging.
Since his last Washington appearance, Henderson, a saxophonist of the deeply sonorous tone/melodically slashing variety, has lived in San Francisco after 14 years of "planting leather in New York." He's bought a house, started teaching at the San Francisco Conservatory, given clinics across the country and prepared manuscripts for a couple of saxophone method books that are about to published.
Appearing Monday night with a quartet, including pianist Joanne Brackeen, who made a name in recent years with Art Blakey and Stan Getz, Henderson offered a first set featuring long versions of only three pieces.
First came one of his favorite compositions, Bronislaw Caplaus' "Invitation," to which he always lends a tough, vibrous quality. Brackeen's playing was melodically brittle but filled with intricate rhythmic pattern.
However, the team of bassist Ratso Harris and rummer Danny Simpson is not as impressive. Competent and reliable as they are, they do not inspire Henderson and Brackeen with as much fire as the two need.