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Joe Henderson Dies at 64

On Sat. June 30, legendary tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson died due to heart failure after a long bout with emphysema. He was 64.

Henderson was born in Lima, Ohio, April 24, 1937. He studied music at Wayne State University in Detroit (1956 to 1960), spent two years in the military and then moved to New York in 1962. He teamed up with bop trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who helped him land a record deal with Blue Note where he cut classic albums like 1963’s Our Thing, 1964’s Inner Urge and 1966’s Mode for Joe. In the ’70s, Henderson moved to San Francisco, where he found regular work with the Milestone label, cutting smart, eclectic, electric-tinged jazz records, but he still lingered in relative obscurity. It wasn’t until his signing with Verve in the early ’90s that he gained due credit as one of the finest lyricists on the tenor saxophone.

“He was a marvelous tenor saxophonist,” jazz historian Ira Gitler told the Associated Press. “He was always exploring new avenues without getting into the avant-garde stuff, like no chords. He stayed within the mainstream but always managed to get new ideas.”

Henderson, who played with everyone from Miles Davis to Blood, Sweat & Tears, won the first of his three Grammies in 1992, for Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn.

Originally Published