Bill McHenry. i

Bill McHenry. John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com hide caption

toggle caption John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com
Bill McHenry.

Bill McHenry.

John Rogers for NPR/johnrogersnyc.com

Live At The Village Vanguard

Bill McHenry QuintetWBGO

Bill McHenry Quintet in Concert at the Village Vanguard - 06/10/2009

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/105122558/105258468" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Everything about Bill McHenry's musical profile would seem to indicate that he's merely a generic player. He's a tenor saxophonist who arrived in New York in the early-'90s wave of young talent, released a few records on small independent labels and chose not to hide his enthusiasm for melodies and chord changes. But those in the know recognize McHenry as one of the most distinct voices of his generation — one who possesses the rare ability to distill abstruse modern ideas into gorgeous, palpably warm music. That voice was on display with his newest band, a quintet featuring a likeminded cohort in drummer Paul Motian, in a live performance from the Village Vanguard.

McHenry called a set of intriguing originals, plus a couple of standard ballads chosen with care. On his compositions, twisting horn themes often in unison motion gave way to solos that drifted in and out of apparent form; the slow tunes were clearly picked with a view toward torch-song beauty. And when he stepped to the fore, he wowed with his command of subtle details in shading and shaping even the most technical of phrases.

Joining McHenry on the front line were poised trumpeter Duane Eubanks and passionate alto saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo, who both took solos with forays into extended technique. Bassist Ben Street both walked time and toyed with it authoritatively; drummer Paul Motian, he of the uncommon accents, was as immediately recognizable as always.

When Bill McHenry arrived in New York in 1992, he was overshadowed by the Young Lions of his generation. But in the years since, he has slowly, quietly developed a celebrated musical identity whose bloom has only recently been noticed by more than his peers. Both New York Times jazz critics, Ben Ratliff and Nate Chinen, listed McHenry's last record, Roses, among their favorite album of any genre in 2007.

As a bandleader, McHenry is known for extracting lyricism from musical templates which verge on the abstract and the formless. It's a tricky aesthetic to pursue, but his penchant for melodic coherence keeps the ship beautifully afloat, even seemingly simple. (It helps that he possesses a distinctive, fully ripened tone, bristling with echoes of an earlier era.)

McHenry is no stranger to the Village Vanguard. He took this current quintet to the venue in 2008, and appears as a sideman or co-leader several times a year. In fact, this broadcast performance marked his second week in a row playing the Vanguard — the previous week, he upheld his longtime spot in the horn section of Guillermo Klein's Los Guachos.

Set List (Set One)
  • "Blues In A"
  • "Violetta"
  • "The Meaning Of The Blues" (Troup)
  • "Lines"
  • "Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out to Dry" (Styne/Cahn)
  • "A21X27100"
  • "Thrush"
  • all compositions by Bill McHenry unless otherwise noted
Set List (Set Two)
  • "Chromatic Scale in A"
  • "My Melancholy Baby" (Burnett/Norton)
  • "Norman"
  • "Study #1"
  • "Lyrical in C" / "La Cama"
  • "Other Birds"
  • "Thrush"
  • all compositions by Bill McHenry unless otherwise noted
Personnel
  • Bill McHenry, tenor saxophone
  • Duane Eubanks, trumpet
  • Andrew D'Angelo, alto saxophone/bass clarinet
  • Ben Street, bass
  • Paul Motian, drums
Credits
  • Josh Jackson, producer and host
  • David Tallacksen, mix engineer
  • Josh Webb, recording assistant
[+] read more[-] less

More From Jazz

Monty Alexander. Crush Boone/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Crush Boone/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Monty Alexander On Piano Jazz

The Jamaican-born pianist, known for his rhythmic approach, joined Marian McPartland in 1991.

Monty Alexander In The Studio

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/482469803/482492744" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Brandee Younger and Edmar Castañeda. Courtesy of the artists hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artists

Jazz Night In America: The Radio Program

Return Of The Jazz Harp

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

Brandee Younger and Edmar Castañeda are bringing the ancient instrument back to the music.

Return Of The Jazz Harp

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/482494560/482495987" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Alan Clare. Allan Warren/Wikimedia Commons hide caption

toggle caption Allan Warren/Wikimedia Commons

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Alan Clare On Piano Jazz

In 1990, the British pianist joined host Marian McPartland from the BBC's London studios.

Alan Clare On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/480295874/480633264" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Dena DeRose. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Dena DeRose On Piano Jazz

In a 2001 session, the singer and pianist joined host Marian McPartland for a program of standards.

Dena DeRose On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/479740933/479741803" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Michael Ochs Archives/Stringer/Getty Images

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

A Tribute To Artie Shaw On Piano Jazz

Historian and cornetist Dick Sudhalter lends perspective on the great clarinetist and bandleader.

A Tribute To Artie Shaw On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/478858076/478859776" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Tania Maria. Jean-Baptiste Poulain/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Jean-Baptiste Poulain/Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Tania Maria On Piano Jazz

The Brazilian pianist and singer mixes frenetic originals with Antônio Carlos Jobim interpretations.

Tania Maria On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/477960098/477961996" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Catherine Russell. Marv Goldschmitt/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Marv Goldschmitt/Courtesy of the artist

Jazz Night In America

Catherine Russell: Sunny Side Of The Street

WBGO and Jazz At Lincoln Center

The singer assembles a vocal trio to take on a book of music she once sang with her mother.

Catherine Russell: Sunny Side Of The Street

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/477822438/477824662" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Jim Ferguson. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz

Jim Ferguson On Piano Jazz

The singing bassist presents original songs and standards in a session from 2001.

Jim Ferguson On Piano Jazz

  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/477064541/477065827" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
Back To Top