Trumpeter Rebecca Coupe Franks was a friend and student of Joe Henderson and his death in 2001 inspired this tribute, featuring 11 original compositions by Franks. To pay tribute to the tenorman without playing any of the music commonly associated with him may seem unusual at first glance, but Franks determined that the best tribute lay in reflecting Henderson's influence on her own music, rather than putting her stamp on his.
Accompanied by an excellent trio, Franks does just what she set out to do. One of the consistent features of Henderson was the ability to improvise creatively while maintaining an aspect of accessibility that expanded the audience for jazz. Similarly, Franks' compositions provide room for creative soloing, both inside and ever so slightly out, that is a hallmark of great jazz, but there's a certain deference to the listener, an appreciation that at its best, jazz is an entertainment, that underpins every track, every solo.
It helps, of course, that Franks is an exceptional player, with impressive intonation and phrasing and a deft sense of improvisation. She not only has great musical ideas, she has the chops to express them. Whether she's blowing bop, shaping a ballad or making her horn dance over a Latin rhythm, she consistently makes choices that are both arresting and entertaining, making Exhibition more than a tribute to Joe Henderson, but an example of jazz at its best.