Joe Henderson

Last updated

Joe Henderson
Joe Henderson 2.jpg
Henderson with Neil Swainson and Jon Ballantyne
Background information
Born(1937-04-24)April 24, 1937
Lima, Ohio, U.S.
DiedJune 30, 2001(2001-06-30) (aged 64)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Years active19551998

Joe Henderson (April 24, 1937 June 30, 2001) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. In a career spanning more than four decades, Henderson played with many of the leading American players of his day and recorded for several prominent labels, including Blue Note, Milestone, and Verve.



Early life

Born in Lima, Ohio, United States, [1] Henderson was one of fourteen children. He was encouraged by his parents Dennis and Irene (née Farley) [2] and older brother James T. to study music. He dedicated his first album to them "for being so understanding and tolerant" during his formative years. Early musical interests included drums, piano, saxophone and composition. According to Kenny Dorham, two local piano teachers who went to school with Henderson's brothers and sisters, Richard Patterson and Don Hurless, gave him a knowledge of the piano. [3] He was particularly enamored of his brother's record collection. It seems that a hometown drummer, John Jarette, advised Henderson to listen to musicians like Lester Young, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon and Charlie Parker. [3] He also liked Flip Phillips, Lee Konitz and the Jazz at the Philharmonic recordings. However, Parker became his greatest inspiration. His first approach to the saxophone was under the tutelage of Herbert Murphy in high school. In this period of time, he wrote several scores for the school band.

By age 18, Henderson was active on the Detroit jazz scene of the mid-1950s, playing in jam sessions with visiting New York City stars. While attending classes of flute and bass at Wayne State University, he further developed his saxophone and compositional skills under the guidance of renowned teacher Larry Teal at the Teal School of Music. In late 1959, he formed his first group. [3] By the time he arrived at Wayne State University, he had transcribed and memorized so many Lester Young solos that his professors believed he had perfect pitch. Henderson's college classmates included Yusef Lateef, Barry Harris and Donald Byrd. [4] He also studied music at Kentucky State College.

Shortly prior to his army induction in 1960, Henderson was commissioned by UNAC to write some arrangements for the suite "Swings and Strings", which was later performed by a ten-member orchestra and the local dance band of Jimmy Wilkins. [3]

Early career

Henderson spent two years (1960–62) in the U.S. Army: first in Fort Benning, where he competed in an Army talent show and won first place, then in Fort Belvoir, where he was chosen for a world tour, with a show to entertain soldiers. While in Paris, he met Kenny Drew and Kenny Clarke. Then he was sent to Maryland to conclude his enlistment. In 1962, he was finally discharged and promptly moved to New York. He first met trumpeter Kenny Dorham, an invaluable guidance for him, at saxophonist Junior Cook's place. That very evening, they went to see Dexter Gordon playing at Birdland. Henderson was asked by Gordon himself to play something with his rhythm section; he happily accepted. [3]

Although Henderson's earliest recordings were marked by a strong hard-bop influence, his playing encompassed not only the bebop tradition, but R&B, Latin and avant-garde as well. He soon joined Horace Silver's band, [1] and provided a seminal solo on the jukebox hit "Song for My Father". After leaving Silver's band in 1966, Henderson resumed freelancing and also co-led a big band with Dorham. His arrangements for the band went unrecorded until the release of Joe Henderson Big Band (Verve) in 1996.

Blue Note recordings

From 1963 to 1968, Henderson appeared on nearly 30 albums for Blue Note, including five released under his name. The recordings ranged from relatively conservative hard-bop sessions ( Page One , 1963) to more explorative sessions ( Inner Urge and Mode for Joe , 1966). He played a prominent role in many landmark albums under other leaders for the label, including most of Horace Silver's Song for My Father , [1] Herbie Hancock's The Prisoner , Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder [1] and "out" albums with pianist Andrew Hill ( Black Fire , 1963 and Point of Departure , 1964) [1] and drummer Pete La Roca ( Basra , 1965).

In 1967, there was a brief association with Miles Davis's quintet featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, although the band was never recorded. Henderson's adaptability and eclecticism would become even more apparent in the years to follow.

Milestone Records recordings

Signing with Orrin Keepnews's fledgling Milestone label in 1967 marked a new phase in Henderson's career. [1] He co-led the Jazz Communicators with Freddie Hubbard from 1967 to 1968. [1] Henderson was also featured on Hancock's Fat Albert Rotunda for Warner Bros. It was during this time that Henderson began to experiment with jazz-funk fusion, studio overdubbing, and other electronic effects. Song and album titles such as Power to the People, In Pursuit of Blackness, and Black Narcissus reflected his growing political awareness and social consciousness, although Black Narcissus was named after the 1947 Powell and Pressburger film of the same title.

After a brief association with Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1971, Henderson moved to San Francisco. [1] He was still signed to Milestone Records, which had recently moved to San Francisco after being acquired by Fantasy Records. Henderson wanted to be near his label, and get out of New York City. Henderson lived in San Francisco for the rest of his life, and taught at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from 1978 to 1982, according to musicologist Joel Geoffrey Harris. A performance space at the San Francisco Jazz Center is named for him.

Later career and death

Though he occasionally worked with Echoes of an Era, the Griffith Park Band and Chick Corea, Henderson remained primarily a leader throughout the 1980s. An accomplished and prolific composer, he began to focus more on reinterpreting standards and his own earlier compositions. Blue Note attempted to position the artist at the forefront of a resurgent jazz scene in 1986 with the release of the two-volume State of the Tenor recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York City. [1] The albums (with Ron Carter on bass and Al Foster on drums) revisited the tenor trio form used by Sonny Rollins in 1957 on his own live Vanguard albums for the same label. Henderson established his basic repertoire for the next seven or eight years, with Thelonious Monk's "Ask Me Now" becoming a signature ballad feature. Following his brief return to Blue Note Records, Henderson was signed by the Italian label Red Records, for which he recorded two more albums in the piano-less trio format.

In 1991, Verve records signed Henderson to the label. In January of that year, Henderson had made a guest appearance on Stephen Scott's Verve album Something to Consider, and worked with Verve producer and vice president Richard Seidel during the session. Henderson and Seidel had first worked together in 1979 while making Henderson's Relaxin' at Camarillo album. After Verve expressed interest in signing Henderson, the saxophonist had to quickly complete his existing contract with Red Records, which he did by recording The Standard Joe in March 1991. Seidel said in a 2016 interview with musicologist Joel Geoffrey Harris that he decided to offer Henderson a record deal after hearing him perform live at Fat Tuesdays in New York. Seidel served as producer on all five of Henderson's 1990s Verve studio albums. Verve adopted a 'songbook' approach to recording him, coupling it with a considerable marketing and publicity campaign, which more successfully positioned Henderson at the forefront of the contemporary jazz scene. His 1992 'comeback' album Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn was a commercial and critical success and was followed by tribute albums to Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim, a big band album, and a jazz adaptation of the George Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess .

A chain smoker, [5] on June 30, 2001, after a long battle with emphysema, Henderson died, in San Francisco, California, as a result of heart failure. He was 64 years of age. [6]


Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Coleman Hawkins</span> American jazz saxophonist (1904–1969)

Coleman Randolph Hawkins, nicknamed "Hawk" and sometimes "Bean", was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. One of the first prominent jazz musicians on his instrument, as Joachim E. Berendt explained: "there were some tenor players before him, but the instrument was not an acknowledged jazz horn". Hawkins biographer John Chilton described the prevalent styles of tenor saxophone solos prior to Hawkins as "mooing" and "rubbery belches". Hawkins cited as influences Happy Caldwell, Stump Evans, and Prince Robinson, although he was the first to tailor his method of improvisation to the saxophone rather than imitate the techniques of the clarinet. Hawkins' virtuosic, arpeggiated approach to improvisation, with his characteristic rich, emotional, and vibrato-laden tonal style, was the main influence on a generation of tenor players that included Chu Berry, Charlie Barnet, Tex Beneke, Ben Webster, Vido Musso, Herschel Evans, Buddy Tate, and Don Byas, and through them the later tenormen, Arnett Cobb, Illinois Jacquet, Flip Phillips, Ike Quebec, Al Sears, Paul Gonsalves, and Lucky Thompson. While Hawkins became known with swing music during the big band era, he had a role in the development of bebop in the 1940s.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hard bop</span> Subgenre of jazz music

Hard bop is a subgenre of jazz that is an extension of bebop music. Journalists and record companies began using the term in the mid-1950s to describe a new current within jazz that incorporated influences from rhythm and blues, gospel music, and blues, especially in saxophone and piano playing.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hank Mobley</span> American jazz saxophonist and composer (1930–1986)

Henry "Hank" Mobley was an American hard bop and soul jazz tenor saxophonist and composer. Mobley was described by Leonard Feather as the "middleweight champion of the tenor saxophone", a metaphor used to describe his tone, that was neither as aggressive as John Coltrane nor as mellow as Lester Young, and his style that was laid-back, subtle and melodic, especially in contrast with players like Coltrane and Sonny Rollins. The critic Stacia Proefrock claimed him "one of the most underrated musicians of the bop era." Mobley's compositions included "Double Exposure," "Soul Station", and "Dig Dis," among others.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Kenny Dorham</span> American jazz trumpeter, singer, and composer

McKinley Howard "Kenny" Dorham was an American jazz trumpeter, singer, and composer. Dorham's talent is frequently lauded by critics and other musicians, but he never received the kind of attention or public recognition from the jazz establishment that many of his peers did. For this reason, writer Gary Giddins said that Dorham's name has become "virtually synonymous with underrated." Dorham composed the jazz standard "Blue Bossa", which first appeared on Joe Henderson's album Page One.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bobby Hutcherson</span> American jazz vibraphone and marimba player

Robert Hutcherson was an American jazz vibraphone and marimba player. "Little B's Poem", from the 1966 Blue Note album Components, is one of his best-known compositions. Hutcherson influenced younger vibraphonists including Steve Nelson, Joe Locke, and Stefon Harris.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Butch Warren</span> American jazz bassist

Edward Rudolph "Butch" Warren Jr. was an American jazz bassist who was active during the 1950s and 1960s.

<i>Point of Departure</i> (Andrew Hill album) 1965 studio album by Andrew Hill

Point of Departure is a studio album by American jazz pianist and composer Andrew Hill, recorded in 1964 and released in 1965 on the Blue Note label. It features Hill in a sextet with alto saxophonist Eric Dolphy, tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Tony Williams.

<i>Power to the People</i> (Joe Henderson album) 1969 studio album by Joe Henderson

Power to the People is an album by jazz saxophonist Joe Henderson, released on Milestone in 1969. Featuring Henderson with trumpeter Mike Lawrence, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Hancock's electric piano and Carter's bass guitar are the first electric instruments to appear on a Henderson album.

<i>Page One</i> (Joe Henderson album) 1963 studio album by Joe Henderson

Page One is the debut album by American jazz tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, released by Blue Note Records in 1963. Besides Henderson, the musicians for the album were trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Butch Warren and drummer Pete La Roca. The album's tracks were all written by either Henderson or Dorham, and include two pieces that went on to become jazz standards: "Recorda Me" by Henderson and "Blue Bossa" by Dorham. All the musicians but Tyner are credited are on the album's front cover; Tyner is listed simply as "etc.", because he was signed to the rival Impulse! Records label.

<i>Fat Albert Rotunda</i> 1969 studio album by Herbie Hancock

Fat Albert Rotunda is the eighth album by jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock, released in 1969. It was Hancock's first release for Warner Bros. Records after his departure from Blue Note Records. The music was originally done for the TV special Hey, Hey, Hey, It's Fat Albert, which later inspired the Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids TV show.

<i>Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn</i> 1992 studio album by Joe Henderson

Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn is an album by the jazz saxophonist Joe Henderson. Composed of songs written by Billy Strayhorn, the album was a critical and commercial success, leading to the first of three Grammy Awards Henderson would receive while under contract with Verve Records. The album had sold nearly 90,000 copies at the time of Henderson's death in 2001 and has been re-released by Verve, Polygram, and in hybrid SACD format by Universal. Musicians on the album are trumpeter Wynton Marsalis, pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Christian McBride and drummer Gregory Hutchinson.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ernie Henry</span> American jazz saxophonist

Ernie Henry was an American jazz saxophonist.

<i>Our Thing</i> (album) 1964 studio album by Joe Henderson

Our Thing is the second album by American jazz tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson on Blue Note. It features performances by Henderson, trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Andrew Hill, drummer Pete La Roca and bassist Eddie Khan of originals by Henderson and Dorham. The CD reissue added a bonus take of "Teeter Totter".

<i>In n Out</i> 1965 studio album by Joe Henderson

In 'n Out is the third album by the jazz saxophonist Joe Henderson, released on the Blue Note label. It was recorded on April 10, 1964, and contains performances by Henderson with trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Richard Davis and drummer Elvin Jones.

<i>The Kicker</i> (Joe Henderson album) 1968 studio album by Joe Henderson

The Kicker is the sixth album by jazz tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, and his first to be released on the Milestone label. It was recorded on August 10, 1967, with one track originating from a later session on September 27, and contains performances by Henderson with trumpeter Mike Lawrence, trombonist Grachan Moncur III, pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Ron Carter and drummer Louis Hayes. The AllMusic review by Scott Yanow states: "Joe Henderson's first recording for Milestone was very much a continuation of the adventurous acoustic music he had recorded previously for Blue Note".

<i>Big Band</i> (Joe Henderson album) 1997 studio album by Joe Henderson

Big Band is a 1997 album by the jazz saxophonist Joe Henderson, the fourth of the five albums he recorded with Verve Records at the end of his career. As the title suggests, it contains arrangements for a full big band.

<i>Joe Henderson in Japan</i> 1973 live album by Joe Henderson

Joe Henderson in Japan is a live album by American saxophonist Joe Henderson, recorded in 1971 at Junk Club in Tokyo, and released on Milestone Records in 1973. Henderson is joined by Japanese musicians Hideo Ichikawa on electric piano, bassist Kunimitsu Inaba and drummer Motohiko Hino.

<i>Trompeta Toccata</i> 1965 studio album by Kenny Dorham

Trompeta Toccata is a 1964 jazz album by trumpeter Kenny Dorham. It was released by Blue Note Records in 1965 as BST 84181. It was remastered by original recording engineer Rudy Van Gelder in 2006. Trompeta Toccata, as with Dorham's previous album Una Mas, features only four pieces, three of which were written by the trumpeter himself. Trompeta Toccata would be his last appearance as a leader; Bob Blumenthal wrote in his 2006 liner notes for the album that "the remainder of Dorhams' recorded career was confined to sideman appearances that can be counted on the fingers of one hand".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Davis (saxophonist)</span> Musical artist

Charles Davis was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Davis played alto, tenor and baritone saxophone, and performed extensively with Archie Shepp and Sun Ra.

"Recorda Me", which translates to "Remember Me" from Portuguese, is a jazz standard by the saxophonist Joe Henderson. It was introduced on Henderson's debut album Page One, in 1963. This album also featured the first recording of the jazz standard "Blue Bossa", written by trumpeter Kenny Dorham. English lyrics were later written by vocalist Kelley Johnson under the title "Remember Me.'


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 1130. ISBN   0-85112-939-0.
  2. Jazz great Henderson gets musical start in Lima the419 | Our Founders Archived February 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 Original liner notes to Page One by Kenny Dorham
  4. Mel Martin, Interview with Joe Henderson Archived July 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine , in The Saxophone Journal, March/April 1991. Retrieved April 24, 2007.
  5. "Joe Henderson". August 31, 2010.
  6. Scott Yanow, AllMusic Biography Retrieved June 25, 2009.