Henderson Brings Miles Davis to Life

An all-star group of musicians brought the magic of jazz to life last Friday night, as trumpeter Eddie Henderson led a talented musical ensemble in ‘The Music of Miles Davis,’ on tour at the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
The OCPAC’s Founder’s Hall was transformed into a laid-back night club reminiscent of the old, hip jazz clubs in New Orleans, Chicago and New York.
The lights were low, small round tables filled the room and cocktail servers came around making sure your glass was never empty.
Pictures of legendary jazz musicians like Miles Davis and John Coltrane decorated the walls, adding an extra hint of ‘cool’ to the already hip atmosphere.
After the drinks were poured and the audience was settled, the musicians made their way onto the stage. They each took their places and gave each other a mischievous look, like they knew they were about to do something fun. With a nod of their heads, the magic started.
Joining seasoned veteran Eddie Henderson on the trumpet was Wayne Escoffery playing tenor saxophone, Steve Wilson playing alto and soprano saxophone, Edward Howard playing bass, Dave Kikoski on the piano and veteran Jimmy Cobb on drums.
Cobb is no stranger to the jazz scene. Almost entirely self-taught and amazingly talented, he has played with John Coltrane, in the ‘Kind of Blue’ sessions, Charlie Rouse and Billie Holiday. In 1958 Cobb joined the Miles Davis group making recordings such as ‘Someday My Prince Will Come,’ ‘Kind of Blue’ and ‘Blackhawk.’ He remained with Miles Davis until 1963, when he went on to play with other world-renowned jazz musicians.
Eddie Henderson, also a veteran to the jazz scene, is one of the most popular, celebrated and innovative jazz trumpeters of today. He had his first trumpet lessons at the age of 9, taught by none other than Louis Armstrong himself. Henderson also studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music when he was 14. Ever since, he has been a major force in the jazz world with his passionate and imaginative playing.
Henderson selected the set list from the many recordings including ‘So What,’ ‘On Green Dolphin Street,’ ‘Someday My Prince Will Come,’ ”Round About Midnight,’ ‘Prince of Darkness’ and many more.
The group focused on Miles Davis’ earlier work, incorporating his eclectic bebop style into their smooth solos.
In keeping with the bebop style, the music was lively, the energy was high and there wasn’t a still body in the crowd. A diverse audience danced along to the fast-paced music throughout the entirety of the show.
At one point in the show, Henderson stopped the music and picked up a microphone to say, ‘These guys are sounding so good that I don’t even want to talk. So I won’t.’ Henderson put down the microphone and not another word was spoken until the very end of the set.
One of the show’s highlights was Jimmy Cobb’s drum solo toward the middle of the set. Cobb, wearing an old baseball cap and glasses, sat relaxed at the drums while he wowed the crowd. Cobb showcased his classic hard-bop style, playing aggressively and powerfully. He used the entire drum set during his solo, leaving the crowd amazed and in awe.
Each musician was given the opportunity to showcase their talent and unique style during the set. The group played for an hour and 15 minutes straight without an intermission, leaving the level of energy at a consistent high.
Unfortunately the music had to end, but the set was definitely memorable. I left with a newfound respect and admiration for the amazing improvisational abilities displayed by the jazz musicians.
The show was part of the Jazz at Lincoln Center’s ‘Music of Miles Davis’ tour. The Center is a nonprofit arts organization which dedicates itself to jazz.
‘Part of our mission is to produce concerts where audiences can experience the music of the great jazz masters,’ said Jazz at Lincoln Center President/CEO Derek E. Gordon. ‘Miles Davis is by far one of the most recognized and influential figures in jazz. With these five musicians, including trumpeter Eddie Henderson and Miles’ alumnus drummer Jimmy Cobb, the music lives on.’