Joe Henderson, born on April 24, 1937, in Lima, Ohio, and passing away on June 30, 2001, was an influential American jazz tenor saxophonist known for his unique tone, versatility, and innovative approach to improvisation. Henderson’s work spanned various styles, including hard bop, post-bop, avant-garde, and fusion, and he collaborated with some of the most notable names in jazz history.
Henderson began his musical journey by studying piano at a young age, and eventually switched to the tenor saxophone in his teens. He attended Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where he studied music, and later enrolled at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston.
In 1962, Henderson moved to New York City and quickly established himself as a sought-after musician. He joined trumpeter Kenny Dorham’s band and recorded his first album, “Page One” (1963), which featured two of his compositions, “Recorda Me” and “Blue Bossa,” that would go on to become jazz standards. Henderson’s early career was marked by collaborations with prominent artists such as Horace Silver, Lee Morgan, and Grant Green.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Henderson recorded numerous albums as a leader for Blue Note Records and other labels, showcasing his innovative and exploratory approach to jazz. Some of his most acclaimed works include “Inner Urge” (1964), “Mode for Joe” (1966), and “Power to the People” (1969).
Despite facing a period of relative obscurity in the 1980s, Henderson’s career experienced a resurgence in the 1990s when he signed with Verve Records. His work during this period, including the Grammy-winning “Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn” (1992), “So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles)” (1993), and “Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim” (1995), earned him widespread acclaim and cemented his status as a jazz legend.
In 1999, Henderson received a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowship, recognizing his lifetime of achievements and contributions to the world of jazz. Joe Henderson’s legacy as an innovator, composer, and master of the tenor saxophone continues to inspire and influence generations of musicians, ensuring his lasting impact on the world of jazz.
Page last updated 3/19/2023.