From November 14 to 16 in 1985, the Joe Henderson trio held court at the Village Vanguardfor a legendary 10-set engagement, some of which was recorded for Blue Note and released in 1986 as two volumes under the declarative banner The State of the Tenor. The saxophone titan was 48 at the time, and sat comfortably at the top of the heap among his peers. The great pugilist of the instrument, his muscular approach was reflective of the brash sensibility of the '80s; the heavy hitters joining him onstage, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Al Foster, complemented Henderson's take-no-prisoners style with a sense of airy restraint, swinging big when they needed to fill in the negative space.
On The State of the Tenor, Volume 1, Henderson pays tribute to saxophone titans like Sam Rivers on his gorgeous ballad "Beatrice." Henderson was hard-edged where Rivers was lush, manic and disjunctive. He further shows his tender side on the ballads "Ask Me Now," one of two Thelonious Monk tunes on Volume 1 and a staple of his repertoire, and "Happy Reunion," a delicate tune that features Henderson as the bull in Duke Ellington's china shop." On "Isotope," Henderson's lone original, he takes the tune in a more radioactive direction, and it is here where his explosiveness goes nuclear. "Loose Change," Carter's sole compositional contribution, offers a glimpse into the straight-ahead hard bop playing that made Henderson's name.
Blue Note Records has announced the continuation of the acclaimed Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series in 2020. Launched in 2019 in honor of the label's 80th Anniversary, the Tone Poet series is produced by Joe Harley (from Music Matters) and features all-analog, 180g audiophile vinyl reissues that are mastered from the original master tapes by Kevin Gray of Cohearent Audio. Tone Poet vinyl is manufactured at RTI in Camarillo, CA, and packaged in deluxe Stoughton Printing "Old Style" gatefold Tip-On jackets. The titles were once again handpicked by Harley and cover the crème de la crème of the Blue Note catalog along with underrated classics, modern era standouts, and albums from other labels under the Blue Note umbrella including Pacific Jazz and United Artists Records. Every aspect of these Blue Note/Tone Poet releases is done to the highest-possible standard. It means that you will never find a superior version.
"The LPs are mastered directly from the original analog master tapes by Kevin at his incredible facility called Cohearent Mastering. We go about it in the exact same way that we did for so many years for the Music Matters Blue Note reissues. We do not roll off the low end, boost the top or do any limiting of any kind. We allow the full glory of the original Blue Note masters to come though unimpeded! Short of having an actual time machine, this is as close as you can get to going back and being a fly on the wall for an original Blue Note recording session."
- Joe Harley
Joe Henderson, tenor saxophone
Ron Carter, bass
Al Foster, drums
• Blue Note Tone Poet Series
• Curated by Music Matters co-founder Joe Harley
• Audiophile-quality 180g vinyl LP
• All-analog mastering (direct from the master tapes) by Kevin Gray
• Manufactured at Record Technology Incorporated
• Deluxe gatefold jacket packaging