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Ghosts of the Sun

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Editors’ Notes

Tenor saxophonist Bill McHenry has a distinctive tone, a pure sound that looks back to pre-'60s jazz. But his compositions have an open, flexible quality that's very 21st century. He’s played with numerous artists, including Charlie Haden, Andrew Cyrille, and Guillermo Klein, and has recorded several albums as a leader. 2011’s Ghosts of the Sun features a quartet with guitarist Ben Monder, bassist Reid Anderson, and that master of free time, the late Paul Motian. “Ms. Polley” is a slice of ambient jazz: Motian’s drumming dazzles with its loose-limbed unpredictability, Monder creates gauzy sheets of sound, and Anderson’s inventive bass anchors the atmospherics. Half of the brief “William (Drums)” is taken up with a solo by Motian; on “Williams III,” the band tugs at the same compositional material, stretching it this way and that. (At one point, Monder unleashes a torrent of noisy guitar that pulls the sound in yet another direction.) “Rose II” is the tense closer, with slashing guitar, a charged solo from McHenry, and a rhythm section that jostles everything before breaking into non-cliché swing.

Customer Reviews

Welcome aboard, Mr. McHenry

Bill McHenry has a brilliant fat tone on tenor. He doesn't try to bowl you over with a thousand notes. His playing is melodic and very musical. The music is deep enough to get lost in -- that's a good thing. Ben Monder provides sympathetic accompaniment, as does bassist Anderson.

As for this recording, it's one of the last sessions for Paul Motian. That's all you really need to know. He's the only drummer, really, who could carry a melody to the point the horns and piano are there just to provide a rhythm section.

Several hundred stars for this superb offering.


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...
Full Bio
Ghosts of the Sun, Bill McHenry
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