By Suzanne Lorge | Published September 2020
Heading into his 80th birthday, Eddie Henderson issues Shuffle And Deal—a material addition to his vast oeuvre of leader dates. The album builds on several long-term creative relationships fostered during the trumpeter’s prolific career. He returns to the studio with practically the same winning lineup from his 2018 release, Be Cool, and daughter Cava Menzies and wife Natsuko Henderson again contribute compositions. Most notably, though, the aesthetic pull of the album derives from Henderson’s deep affinity with freakishly empathic pianist Kenny Barron.
The word “shuffle” is a play on the groove of the title cut—a sophisticated, Miles Davis-inspired composition Henderson penned for the album—but also describes the recurrence of tunes from his and his players’ established repertoire. Henderson includes two Barron compositions: “Flight Path,” a fervent, melodic imperative, and the charming Latin medium-tempo “Cook’s Bay.” There’s also altoist Donald Harrison’s “Burnin’” and four lovingly polished standards—recognizable ballads rendered all the more touching alongside the rambunctious originals.
Besides Henderson’s own pieces, two other tunes are all-new with this release. Menzies’ clever, mixed-meter “By Any Means” delights with its clean horn lines and irresistible harmonic undertow, and Natsuko Henderson’s neo-soul “Boom”—featuring Mike Clark’s high-velocity drumming—sparkles with intensity.
But it is Henderson’s clarion trumpeting that guides the crush of talent on this album. His musical wisdom, gleaned during decades spent on the best jazz bandstands, informs every unerring note.
Shuffle And Deal: Shuffle And Deal; Flight Path; Over The Rainbow; By Any Means; Cook’s Bay; It Might As Well Be Spring; Boom; God Bless The Child; Burnin’; Smile. (58:57)
Personnel: Eddie Henderson, trumpet; Donald Harrison, alto saxophone; Kenny Barron, piano; Gerald Cannon, bass; Mike Clark, drums.