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Ghosts of the Sun

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Album Review

Avant-garde jazz tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry turns in a fairly typical set here in recordings made five years before their release in 2011, working with longtime compatriots Ben Monder (guitar), Reid Anderson (bass), and Paul Motian (drums). McHenry is a free jazz player in the mold of Ornette Coleman, although his approach is calmer and less abrasive. Nevertheless, the quartet states its free bona fides up-front on the slow eight and half minutes of "Ms. Polley," as Motian makes his drums stumble through beats, while Anderson goes off on unrelated rhythmic runs and nominal soloists McHenry and Monder play bursts of notes connected neither to each other nor to any linear progression. "La Fuerza" is, if anything, even freer, but on "Anti Heroes," the group pulls back into a more deliberately cohesive unit as McHenry plays a recognizable melody with variations. The alternation between free playing and more organized arrangements continues throughout the disc, with, for instance, the brief "Little One" being another melodic, almost pop-oriented piece and "Lost Song," ironically given its title, a cooperative, if slow performance. In keeping with the title Ghosts of the Sun, McHenry and his associates seem determined to suggest possibilities of order without actually submitting to the strictures of order for very long.


Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '90s

Tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry has become widely known in NY for his work both as a leader and sideman. Born in Blue Hill, ME in 1972, McHenry entered Michigan's Interlochen Arts Academy in 1986 and then attended New England Conservatory in 1990, studying with George Garzone, Jimmy Giuffre, and John McNeil. He relocated to NY in the fall of 1992 and became active in the jazz scene. During part of 1996 he lived in Barcelona, collaborating on a live album with pianist Ben Waltzer titled Jazz Is Where...
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Ghosts of the Sun, Bill McHenry
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