For SF WEEKLY: It’s easy for conversations about jazz to revolve around big names that even the casual listener can have an opinions about: John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Billie Holiday. Coltrane in particular cast such a long, inimitable shadow over the vast pool of tenor saxophone players that came before and after him.
Among them was Joe Henderson, a member of Horace Silver’s “Song For My Father” quintet, who played as a Blue Note records sideman on McCoy Tyner’s “The Real McCoy” and Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder” among dozens of other well-known jazz recordings.
Henderson’s rich body of work is vast. He’s credited for his “undiluted approach” to hard bop, post-bop, soul-jazz, Latin jazz, and other genres, that in later years brought him commercial success, a rare occurrence for a jazzman.
From the early 70s through to his death in 2001 at age 64, Henderson lived in San Francisco, where he performed regularly at the annual SFJAZZ Festival and helped shape its programming. A small performance space at the SFJAZZ center now bears his name. Henderson earned four Grammys, three of them for best album in the early 1990s when he was in his mid-50s living in San Francisco. He worked worked with the saxophonist Hafez Modirzadeh at San Francisco State University.
From Thursday through Sunday, The SFJAZZ Collective will perform a series of shows dedicated to Joe Henderson as well their own original compositions. The collective played for the first time at the Newport Jazz Festival this August and their release “Wonder: The Songs of Stevie Wonder” won the 2014 Most Outstanding Jazz Album at the NAACP Image awards.
The collective features Miguel Zenón on alto saxophone, David Sánchez on tenor, Avishai Cohen on trumpet, Robin Eubanks on trombone, Warren Wolf on vibraphone and marimba, Edward Simon on piano, Matt Penman on bass, and Obed Calvaire on drums.
Image of the SFJAZZ Collective courtesy of the SFJAZZ Center