Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson died Saturday after a long bout with emphysema. He was 64. Widely acknowledged as having the ideal tone for a tenor player, Henderson possessed a lyrical, melodic styl
Tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson died Saturday after a long bout with emphysema. He was 64. Widely acknowledged as having the ideal tone for a tenor player, Henderson possessed a lyrical, melodic style filled with emotion. He could apply his trademark tone to styles ranging from hard bop to free jazz.
Born in Lima, Ohio, Henderson studied music at Kentucky State College and Wayne State University. Following stints with organist Jack McDuff and trumpeter Kenny Dorham, Henderson signed with the Blue Note label, where he recorded as both a leader and a sideman for Horace Silver and Herbie Hancock. He recorded steadily throughout his career, most notably for Blue Note and Milestone.
Henderson's public profile increased considerably when he signed with Verve in 1992. He recorded a number of themed projects for the label that paid tribute to artists such as Miles Davis ("So Near, So Far"), Antonio Carlos Jobim ("Double Rainbow"), and Billy Strayhorn ("Lush Life"), along with a 1997 take on "Porgy and Bess" that featured vocal contributions from Sting and Chaka Khan. Unlike many similar "themed" recordings that often find an artist watering down their craft for mass consumption, Henderson's Verve outings found him improvising with the same intensity and passion that earmarked his earlier work, bringing his legendary tone and feel to a wider and ever-appreciative audience.