Obscure Trumpet Masters #3 – Eddie Henderson

 Eddie Henderson

“That old adage, ‘Physician heal thyself.’ This is what heals me. Playing music. It’s what makes me well. How can I help somebody else if I’m not well?” – Eddie Henderson

Some musicians like to call each other “doctor”, simply as a term of endearment or respect for another’s musical prowess. In the case of Eddie Henderson, the appellation is appropriate on every level.

A practicing physician, psychologist and a jazz musician, who received his first trumpet lesson from Louis Armstrong, and counted Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan among family friends; Eddie Henderson’s musical career is fairly unusual in that he achieved some renown in the fusion world before garnering mainstream jazz acclaim. 

(Dr. Eddie Henderson playing Woody Shaw’s “Sweet Love of Mine”)

As Miles Davis was also a family friend (A teenaged Henderson once had the cojones to say to Miles “You don’t play correct.”), it was no surprise that the young Henderson came under Davis’ influence; and in the early ‘70’s that meant jazz-rock-funk fusion.  Henderson played with Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi band from 1970 – 1973 and recorded his first two discs as a leader, (Realization and Inside Out) backed by that group.  Apart from the powerful fusion of those discs, most of his output as a leader from the 70’s is commercial, albeit well-played.

(Here’s a recent clip of Dr. Henderson on “Up Jumped Spring”)

As the 1990’s brought a more hospitable climate for traditional styles of jazz, Dr. Henderson began to return to straight-ahead playing. Over the last 15+ years, he has garnered some of the critical acclaim that had eluded him in the past.  Generally, his recording group now is a quintet or sextet that includes the outstanding vibraphonist Joe Locke as a second lead voice.  Henderson’s recent music has been as warm, inviting and interesting as anything around today. 

Eddie Henderson is still going strong at age 70. He released a new quartet album late last year, with John Scofield, Doug Weiss and Billy Drummond, titled For All We Know. It’s a laid back but swinging date, highlighted by a take on his old boss Herbie Hancock’s “Cantaloupe Island”.

If you don’t know Dr. Eddie Henderson yet, check these discs out. There’s a lot to like.

Recommended Recordings:

  • Anthology – Vol. 2 (Soul Brother [Import]) Features Realization and Inside Out, his first two solo albums, on one disc. Excellent Fusion! – CD in print, but pricey
  • Flight of Mind (SteepleChase [Import]) – CD in print; mp3 also available
  • Inspirations (Milestone) – CD – OOP, but fairly available;
  • Reemergence (Sharp Nine) – CD in print

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