Taiga is Al Henderson’s fifth release and showcases 10 original tunes.
In additon to Al’s regular quintet, this CD feautures appearances by several special guest artists; baritone saxophonist David Mott performs on three tracks while noted cellists Matt Brubeck and Mark Chambers, first heard with the septet on the Juno nominated Regeneration (CRST CD132), return for three others. Icicles, a piece inspired by the American poet Robert Pinsky gives a preview of a series of pieces inspired by Pinsky’s poems to be performed and recorded at a later date.
The initial inspiration for Croaking Raven came from listening to the remarkable range of sounds and calls used by the ravens of Eastport, Newfoundland & Labrador. The ravens “donated” a few calls to be used on the recording. During rehearsals, Pat LaBarbera began quoting from Poe’s The Raven. It seemed so appropriate to the piece that Pat generously agreed to narrate several stanzas from the poem for this performance. Who knew that he would be so good at it!
This piece was written as a musical setting for the poem Icicles by the wonderful American poet Robert Pinsky. It can be played as purely an instrumental composition (as it is here) or with narration of the poem interspersed between themes and solos. For those interested in reading the poem itself, it can be found in Robert Pinsky’s latest work: Selected Poems (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. 2011).
I have known and worked with David Mott for over thirty years, but up until now have never had the opportunity to record with him. When he agreed to be a part of this project, I immediately thought of playing A Portrait of Billy Strayhorn to make use of the unique quality of his baritone sax along with Alex’s alto and and Pat’s tenor. I should note as well the terrific way in which Alex Dean evokes the memory of Johnny Hodges in this performance.