Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music
(b 24 April '37, Lima OH; d 30 June 2001) Tenor and soprano saxophones, flute, composer. Learnt his trade in the bands of Kenny Dorham '62-3, Horace Silver '64-6, Herbie Hancock '69-70, led his own groups from the '70s. Involved in musical education in late '70s-80s but re-emerged as one of the most cultured jazz soloists with Blue Note's State Of The Tenor '85, one of the most nearly perfect live recordings in jazz. Still, the quality had always been there, his reputation established by earlier Blue Notes: Page One and Our Thing '63, In 'n Out and Inner Urge '64, Mode For Joe '66, etc. The Kicker '67 was on Milestone, later on Fantasy. Four on Verve found Henderson in Baltimore '68 with the Wynton Kelly Trio, with Paul Chambers and Jimmy Cobb, who by then had been together a decade; it was a splendid gig and a real surprise when it was finally released '95. Henderson's pace of recording had slowed but never stopped in the '70s; some of the albums were larger groups, and 'In A Modal Way', recorded live in Yugoslavia '73, had nine pieces including Cedar Walton, Gary Burton, Kenny Barron noodling on a head arrangement for 35 minutes (issued on a Jazz Door CD '96), a good example of a bunch of post-bop veterans trying to come to terms with transitions in jazz and not sounding very comfortable with it. Barcelona '77 on Enja had one trio track and two duets with just a bassist. Relaxin' At Camarillo '79 was on Contemporary, later on Fantasy, a quartet date with Chick Corea; the recording slowed still more as Henderson was involved in music education. And then came a renaissance in the '90s with reissues on Blue Note, The Standard Joe and An Evening With Joe Henderson (with Charlie Haden and Joe Foster), both on Red Records; Lush Life '92 and So Near, So Far '93, the latter two on Verve, dedicated to the music of Billy Strayhorn and Miles Davis respectively. He ended as one of the biggest names in jazz, doing what he did best: Joe Henderson Big Band '96 treats his own tunes, with trumpeter Nicholas Payton and Christian McBride on bass; septet Porgy And Bess '97 on Verve with John Scofield has Sting singing 'It Ain't Necessarily So', Chaka Khan on 'Summertime', all very well judged.