Mon. Nov. 29, 2021

Eddie Henderson – Say You Will (Capitol)

Most Wanted! Eddie Henderson – Say You Will (Capitol)

Although to many of you here, the first Eddie Henderson‘s cut comin’ to mind would be ‘Prance On’, ‘Say You Will’ pretty much deserves the mention on these shores.

Here we most likely have one of the most boiling instrumentals in the history of Jazz/Funk. With its psychedelism somehow in the vein of The Temptations‘Plastic Man’. ‘Say You Will’, written by James Mtume and Reggie Lucas, seeing Henderson jammin’ with a bunch of luminaries. From Patrice Rushen to Philip Bailey. Not to mention Lee Ritenour, Mtume and Charles Mimms.

Strangely enough, it only saw the light on the then newly adopted 12 inch format as the flipside of ‘Dance (Do What You Wanna Do)’. This most likely contributing to its rarity and its value on the second hand market.

What’s the value of your vinyl record?

– A native New Yorker, Eddie Henderson hails from a family of artists. With his mom remembered as one the dancers in the original Cotton Club. And his dad happened to sing along with Billy Williams and The Charioteers. He quickly found an inclination for the trumpet (and later on the flugelhorn). And, by the age of 9, he got given an informal lesson by Louis Armstrong. He then continued to study the instrument as a teenager in San Francisco after his family moved there in back 1954. He found some influences in the work of jazz icon Miles Davis who was a friend of his parents. They met 3 years later and eventually played a gig together.

After finishing up his medical education, Henderson went back to the Bay area for his medical internship and residency. Back at the time, he came to join Herbie Hancock‘s Mwandishi band for a week-long gig. An experience which led him to a 3 year job between 1970 and 1973. Contributing to the recording of 3 albums by the group under Hancock‘s name. And eventually releasing his 2 first albums – ‘Realization’ and ‘Inside Out’ with the latter.

Takin’ his distance from Hancock, he then extensively worked with Pharoah Sanders, Norman Connors and Art Blakey‘s Jazz Messengers. And in 1975, he fronted Latin Jazz band Azteca. And he also happened to record with Charles Earland.

Wearing a double hat – he worked a parallel career as a psychiatrist – Henderson has released a total of 25 albums between 1973 and 2016. And although he gained some notoriety for his work with Herbie Hancock, his own music never managed to get a solid recognition. And this because of most likely being considered as too commercial.

Henderson nevertheless had a brief success in the UK with ‘Prance On’ back in 1978. This would be his one and only hit for some reason. With ‘Say You Will’ which saw the light the year before failing to make it into the local charts. And the same happening to ‘The Funk Surgeon’ and ‘Cyclops’.

He put an end to a 11 year hiatus back in 1990, releasing a return album and playing acoustic hard bop, touring with Billy Harper the year after…

James Mtume, a singer, songwriter, and multi instrumentist, and Reggie Lucas (himself a guitarist and songwriter too) met during their days as members of the Miles Davis band in the early 70’s.
Together, they produced an impressive series of outstanding gems. Among their most memorable ones: ‘Back Together Again’ for Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway. ‘You Know How To Love Me’ for Phyllis Hyman. ‘What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin” and ‘Put Your Body In It’ for Stephanie Mills. But also ‘Say You Will’ for Eddie Henderson and Real Thing‘s ‘She’s A Groovy Freak’.

Ultimately they would work together on the two first albums of Mtume. In other words, ‘Kiss This World Goodbye’. Then ‘In Search Of The Rainbow Seekers’ out of which came ‘So You Wanna Be A Star’. This before parting ways by the beginning of the 80’s.

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10 essential Jazz Funk classics (Part 2)…

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