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Ken Burns Jazz-Fletcher Henderson by Fletcher Henderson
Fletcher Henderson and his arranger-saxophonist Don Redman laid the groundwork for the big bands of the swing era, creating a style that matched propulsive call-and-response tunes with potent soloists. While Henderson's influence on bandleaders from Duke Ellington to Benny Goodman is regularly noted, his own work remains relatively neglected. This CD spans his most creative years, from 1924 to 1940, charting the creative explosion that took place when Redman's orchestral vision first encountered Louis Armstrong's spontaneous creativity. While Armstrong's trumpet sparkles on "Shanghai Shuffle," "Copenhagen," and "Sugar Foot Stomp" from 1924-25, Henderson's ear for talent kept the ranks of the band filled with the most accomplished and promising talent of the era. Tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was present until 1934. And saxophonists Benny Carter, Ben Webster, and Chu Berry; clarinetist Barney Bigard; and trumpeters Red Allen and Rex Stewart all add flashes of individual brilliance to the tunes. Ranging from Henderson's charging adaptation of Jelly Roll Morton's "King Porter Stomp" to the futurist harmonies of Hawkins's "Queer Notions," this is an excellent introduction to a remarkable body of work. --Stuart Broomer
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