Many forms of music comprise Lauren Henderson’s
inspiration and vocal repertoire. And you’re likely to hear traces of
all of them on A La Madrugada (At Dawn) (2015).
With Henderson are Riley Mulherkar, trumpet; Jonathan Powel, trumpet and
flugelhorn; Louis Fouche, alto saxophone; Sullivan Forner, piano, Rhodes
and organ; Ameen Saleem, double bass and electric bass; and Jeremy
“Bean” Clemons, drums and percussion.
The set begins with a sultry rendition of “You and the Night and the
Music.” Henderson’s earthy voice is complemented by a sassy horn
section. The piano and percussion styling give the song a hint of
flamenco, one of the styles that influenced Henderson. Saleem enjoys a
tight, string-snapping solo. The highlight of the piece is the way the
trumpets blare to emphasize key phrases sang by Henderson.
“Accede” is one of seven Henderson originals. Accented by Fortner’s
sizzling play on the organ, this piece has an element of funk. The
melody has a sultry quality, similar to that of the classic, “Fever.”
Fortner cuts loose during the middle break, with help from Saleem’s
electric bass and Clemons’ stick work.
Henderson’s degree in Hispanic Studies and time spent living in Puebla,
Mexico, come through in the title song. The front end is like reciting
poetry in an old-school club where jazz musicians accompany the poets.
Then Henderson steps aside while the musicians give their matador theme
impression. The lead trumpet grinds through many of its phrases,
enhancing the drama.
Henderson began piano lessons at age 7 and sang in church and school
choirs. Based in New York, she has performed at various clubs and
participated in workshops around the city.