Joe Henderson

At one time Eve Arden was playing the gal pal in every other movie, then Joe Pesci was doing the same sort of pal thing for another generation. Sidekicks who were more than mere foils for the lead but brought an energy than enhanced even the palest material. There was time when it seemed Mary Clayton was singing backup on every pop recording out of Britain. 

Jazz also has famous side men & one of them is tenor sax player Joe Henderson, who over decades, starting in the 50’s, recorded with nearly everyone, including Horace Silver, Herbie Hancock & Miles Davis – to name a few. His style went from hard bop to jazz-funk fusion to not quite mellow explorations of music by Jobim, Gershwin. He was always tasteful, edgy when needed & inventive without calling attention to himself. 

As a group leader I have his early Mode for Joe tucked in a Jimmy Smith mp3 collection. As stand-alones I have Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn; So Near, So Far: Musings for Miles; Double Rainbow: Music of Jobim; Big Band; Porgy & Bess. Any of these is not only a good introduction to Henderson but also to the musicians he is exploring.

A word or two about Billy Strayhorn. He was writer, pianist, arranger for Duke Ellington for many years. He was totally out as a gay man from the get-go & survived behind the scenes on his talent. He never became a ‘headliner’ thanks to being out. Read ‘Lush Life’ the David Hajdu biography of Strayhorn for a look at an amazing life.

If you want to start a jazz exploration any Joe Henderson is a perfect place to start.

The Red Menace

“In light of recent events Mr. Razov will not be returning to the chess club this year.” Mr. Bannister 

shrugged.

There was a mutter of dismay.

“I know he has been a great teacher for you.”

“We wouldn’t have won the inter-provincials without him.” Harold slumped in his chair.

“I know we’ll miss him, but you won’t forget the strategies he showed you.”

There was only seven of us in the Davisville High-School Chess Club but we had done better than any of the sports teams in the school. But of course the sports teams got the most notice. Our first place trophies didn’t even end-up on display with their third place runner-up plaques.

“Let’s draw to see who’ll play who today.” Mr. Bannister forced a smile. 

The recent events where Mr. Razov being hospitalized. He’d been found badly beaten on the steps of his little house. No one knew why. The police had issued a ‘no information at this time’ statement to the paper a week ago with no follow up.

We suspected it had something to do with his being from the Russia. Some speculated that the Soviet Secret Police had come to make sure he didn’t spill state secrets or something like that. Maybe wanted to stop him from teaching us chess. He had been a Grand Master before he escaped to Canada.

“I know you are worried about Mr. Razov but you have to be able to focus on anything to be a champion. After all he won his world title while planning to escape, knowing full well they had his family back there.”

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