Joe Henderson / April 24, 1937 - June 30, 2001

The great tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson came out of Wayne State University, where he was classmates with Yusef Lateef, Donald Byrd and Barry Harris. After leaving the Army in '62 he went to NYC and hooked up with Kenny Dorham & Dexter Gordon and then joined Horace Silver's group, soloing on the hit "Song For My Father".

He became a go-to tenor for sessions at Blue Note records (appearing with Silver, Herbie Hancock, Andrew Hill, Lee Morgan, Freddie Hubbard, Grant Green, McCoy Tyner, Larry Young and tons more), including releasing several albums on the label as a leader. In the late '60s and into the '70s he cut some more experimental and fusiony material for Milestone, including a great collaboration with Alice Coltrane.

Henderson also worked with Miles Davis, Blood Sweat & Tears, Chaka Khan, Chick Corea, Olatunji, Flora Purim, Roy Ayers, Charlie Haden and a number of pop artists as an esteemed guest. He became a late career success story with Verve. Henderson had a Coltrane-inspired tenor style (and played soprano and flute as well) that worked well in many musical contexts; bop, ballads, outside, fusion, funk, Latin and pop. Some of his records were written off by purists for their dabbling in electronics and pop but time has told that they are some of the BEST experiments in those areas by a bonafide hard-bop generation player.

Here's a classic from Henderson, with Trane associates Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner (along with bassist Bob Cranshaw) in the fold. From 1965's Inner Urge (Blue Note:

1971's In Pursuit Of Blackness (Milestone) included this selection from the same concert as the Live at The Lighthouse album. Woody Shaw on trumpet:

Here is Henderson in a psychedelic, overdub mindset, from Black Is The Color (Milestone, '72):

Multiple, from 1973, is a particularly groovy one with Jack DeJohnette and James "Blood" Ulmer in the group:

I am a big fan of his 1974 collab with Alice Coltrane and Charlie Haden, The Elements, in all its' drippy, echoey glory:

Here's some vintage live footage, ca. '77 or so:

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