Al Henderson will lead an ensemble of musicians at concert next week

Jazz bassist, composer and arranger Al Henderson (BA ’76, MFA ’83) will lead an ensemble of colleagues and friends in an upcoming performance, bringing new and original material to the stage as part of the Department of Music’s Faculty Concert Series at York.

The concert will be held at 7:30pm on Feb. 24 in the Tribute Communities Recital Hall, 112 Accolade East Building, Keele campus.

Henderson is leader of his own quintet – the Al Henderson Quintet, which has expanded to the Al Henderson Septet with two cellists for his most recent material – and is co-leader of the group Time Warp. He has performed with jazz artists such as Jane Bunnett, Arnett Cobb, Hank Crawford, Slim Gaillard, Jimmy Knepper, Flip Phillips and Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson.

Right: Al Henderson

As a composer, he has created a large and distinctive repertoire of original works. In addition to CDs by his own bands, Henderson’s compositions have been recorded by artists such as Don Pullen & Jane Bunnett, Shox Johnson & the Jive Bombers, Alex Dean and Richard Whiteman.

Joining him for the concert are leading Canadian musicians Pat Labarbera (saxes and flute), Alex Dean (saxes, flute and bass clarinet), and York faculty members Matt Brubeck (cello), Mark Chambers (cello), Richard Whiteman (piano) and Barry Romberg (drums).

Most of the material on the program is drawn from Henderson’s current recording project, Regeneration, a CD slated for release this spring. The title track is dedicated to one of the principal architects behind the Canadian War Museum, Raymond Moriyama, and his wife Sachi.

“The Moriyamas asked me to write them a piece a number of years back. I told Raymond I at least needed a title, so he suggested Regeneration, which was one of the themes he was exploring as he was designing the museum,” says Henderson, a graduate of York as well as a professor in the Department of Music.

“I’ve been working on the project for some time, as I wanted everything to be just so, but every time we talked I would get new ideas. The piece has grown into a six-section suite more than 15 minutes long. In the meantime, Raymond has finished and launched the museum and written a book about his experience designing it, called In Search of a Soul. The book inspired yet another composition which serves as a kind of epilogue to the suite itself.”

Henderson’s research for Regeneration drew from many sources, including the museum itself and his own family history. His grandfather played cornet in the 1st Battalion Canadian Expeditionary Forces in the First World War and kept journals about his first-hand experiences in the battle of Amiens as well as marching through the destruction that was Passchendaele. One moment that particularly struck Henderson in his reading, was his grandfather’s comment on how difficult is was to play when one’s throat was hoarse from being gassed the day before.

Also on the concert program as well as the CD, is Spirit Owl, inspired by an Inuit transformation sculpture by Cape Dorset artist Turataga Ragee, and Palacio, a jazz tribute to the late Andy Palacio, a father of the Belizean music style known as Punta Rock.

Single tickets for the concert are $15 or $5 for students and seniors. Series tickets are $30 for a three-concert package. To order tickets, visit the Box Office Web site or call 416-736-5888.