Saturday, April 26, 2014

Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996): Paying Tribute To A Legendary and Iconic Singer On Her 97th Birthday

(b. April 25, 1917--d. June 15, 1996)


Ella Fitzgerald (1917-1996) was one of the greatest and most influential singers of the 20th century, and a consummate master of the American popular song tradition. What follows is just a small sampling of the massive extraordinary discography of her stunning sixty year career as one of the premiere members of the original elite pantheon of legendary African American female singers (e.g. Bessie Smith, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Dinah Washington, and Abbey Lincoln) who creatively dominated American singing from 1920-1990 and laid the creative foundation for the many women singers in the American popular song tradition both in this country and abroad who followed in their glorious and massive footsteps (e.g. Anita O'Day, Judy Garland, Peggy Lee, Jeri Southern, Julie London, Barbara Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Chaka Khan, Patti Austin, Natalie Cole, Donna Summer, Cassandra Wilson, and Whitney Houston etc.).  Long live Ella and her incredible artistic legacy...



Ella Fitzgerald [ASV/Living Era] (ASV / Living Era 1935)

Ella and Her Fellas (Decca 1938)

75th Birthday Celebration (GRP 1938)

The Chick Webb Orchestra Directed by Ella...(Jazz Anthology 1939)

New York 1940 (Jazz Anthology 1940)

Ella Fitzgerald and Her Orchestra (Sunbeam 1940)

Sing Song Swing (Laserlight 1940)

Live from the Roseland Ballroom New York 1940 (Jazz Anthology 1940)

For Sentimental Reasons (Decca 1944)

Lullabies of Birdland (Decca 1945)

Ella & Ray (Jazz Live 1948)

Ella Fitzgerald Set (Verve 1949)

Miss Ella Fitzgerald and Mr. Nelson Riddle... (Decca 1949)

Gershwin Songs (Decca 1950)

Souvenir Album (Decca 1950)

Bluella: Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Blues (Pablo 1953)

Sweet and Hot (Decca 1953)

Songs in a Mellow Mood (Decca 1954)

Songs from 'Pete Kelly's Blues' (Decca 1955)

One O' Clock Jump (Verve 1956)

Sings Cole Porter (Verve 1956)

Sings More Cole Porter (Verve 1956)

A Tribute to Cole Porter (Verve 1956)

Sings the Cole Porter Song Book, Vol. 1 (Verve 1956)

Sings the Cole Porter Song Book, Vol. 2 (Verve 1956)

Ella and Louis Together [Laserlight] (Laserlight 1956)

Ella and Louis (Verve 1956)

Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book, Vols. 1-2 (Verve 1956)

Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book, Vol. 1 (Verve 1956)

Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book, Vol. 2 (Verve 1956)

Sings the Rodgers & Hart Song Book, Vol. 2 (Verve 1956)

Ella Fitzgerald Live (Verve 1956)

Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book, Vol. 2 (Verve 1956)

Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book, Vol. 1 (Verve 1956)

Ella Fitzgerald and Jazz at the... (Tax 1957)

Ella and Billie at Newport (Verve 1957)

Ella and Louis Again (Verve 1957)

Ella and Louis Again, (Verve 1957)

Ella and Louis Again, Vol. 2 (Verve 1957)

Hello, Love (Verve 1957)

Get Happy (Verve 1957)

At the Opera House (Verve 1957)

Ella Fitzgerald at the Opera House (Verve 1957)

Lady Be Good! (Verve 1957)

Like Someone in Love (Verve 1957)

Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book, Vol. 2 (Verve 1958)

Sings the Irving Berlin Song Book, Vol. 1 (Verve 1958)

Ella in Rome: The Birthday Concert [live] (Verve 1958)

Ella Swings Lightly (Verve 1958)

Sings Sweet Songs for Swingers (Verve 1958)

Ella Swings Brightly with Nelson (Verve 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book (Verve 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book,... (Verve 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book,... (Verve 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book,... (Verve 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book,... (Verve 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book,... (Verve 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book,... (Verve 1959)

Ella Sings Gershwin [MCA] (MCA 1959)

Sings the George & Ira Gershwin Song Book (Verve 1959)

Ella in Berlin [live] (Verve 1960)

Ella Sings Songs from "Let No Man Write My... (Verve 1960)

The Intimate Ella (Verve 1960)

Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas (Verve 1960)

Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book [Original... (Verve 1960)

Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book, Vol. 2 (Verve 1960)

Sings the Harold Arlen Song Book, Vol. 1 (Verve 1960)

Ella Returns to Berlin (Verve 1961)

Ella in Hollywood (Verve 1961)

Clap Hands, Here Comes Charlie! (Verve 1961)

Ella Swings Gently with Nelson (Verve 1961)

Rhythm Is My Business (Verve 1962)

Ella Sings Broadway (Verve 1962)

Sings the Jerome Kern Song Book (Verve 1963)

Ella and Basie! (Verve 1963)

Ella and Basie (Verve 1963)

These Are the Blues (Verve 1963)

Hello Dolly (Verve 1964)

Ella at Juan Les Pins (Verve 1964)

Sings the Johnny Mercer Song Book (Verve 1964)

Stairway to the Stars (Decca 1965)

Ella in Hamburg (Verve 1965)

Ella Fitzgerald [MCA] (Metro 1965)

Ella at Duke's Place (Verve 1965)

The Stockholm Concert, 1966 [live] (Pablo 1966)

Whisper Not (Verve 1966)

Ella & Duke at the Cote D'azur (Verve 1966)

The World of Ella Fitzgerald (Metro 1966)

Misty Blue (Capitol 1967)

Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas (Capitol 1967)

Brighten the Corner (Capitol 1967)

Thirty by Ella (Capitol 1968)

Sunshine of Your Love (Prestige 1969)

Ella (Reprise 1969)

Ella Fitzgerald with the Tommy Flanagan Trio (Delta 1969)

Ella a Nice Original (Jazz 1971)

Loves Cole (Atlantic 1972)

Dream Dancing (Pablo 1972)

Carnegie Hall 1973, Vol. 1 [live] (Jazzotheque 1973)

Carnegie Hall 1973, Vol. 2 Jazzotheque 1973)

Newport Jazz Festival: Live at Carnegie Hall (Columbia 1973)

Take Love Easy (Pablo 1973)

Ella Fitzgerald Jams (Pablo 1974)

Fine and Mellow (Pablo 1974)

Ella in London (Pablo / OJC 1974)

Ella and Oscar (Pablo 1974)

Montreux '75 [live] (Pablo 1975)

Ella Fitzgerald at the Montreux Jazz... [live] (Pablo 1975)

At the Montreaux Festival (Original Jazz 1975)

Fitzgerald and Pass...Again (Pablo 1976)

Ella Fitzgerald [Pablo] (Pablo 1976)

Montreux '77 (Original Jazz 1977)

Lady Time (Pablo / OJC 1978)

A Classy Pair (Pablo 1979)

Live: Digital 3 at Montreux (Pablo 1979)

Perfect Match (Pablo 1979)

Ella Abraca Jobim (Pablo 1980)

The Best Is Yet to Come (Pablo 1982)

Speak Love (Pablo 1982)

Nice Work If You Can Get It (Pablo 1983)

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off (Pablo 1983)

Billie Holiday & Ella Fitzgerald (MCA 1986)

Easy Living (Pablo 1986)

Wishes You a Swinging Christmas (Polydor 1988)

All That Jazz (Pablo 1989)

Starlit Hour (Rounder 1989)

Ella: Things Ain't What They Used to Be (Reprise 1991)

Memories (MCA 1991)

Ella Sings, Chick Swings (Olympic 1991)

Ella with Her Savoy Eight (ASV / Living Era 1992)

Ella Fitzgerald ([Laserlight] Laserlight 1992)

Lady Is a Tramp (ITM 1994)

Sings the Cole Porter Song Book, Vol. 1 (Polygram 1994)

Roseland Dance City (Canby 1995)

Christmas with Ella Fitzgerald (Cema Special 1995)

My Heart Belongs to Daddy (Musketeer 1995)

Hallelujah (Smash 1995)

It's a Blue World (Drive 1995)

Hallelujah! (Hot Club de 1995)

My Happiness (Parrot 1995)

You'll Have to Swing It (Eclipse Music 1996)

A-Tisket A-Tasket ([Intercontinental] Intercontinent 1996)

Stockholm Concert [live] (Jazz World 1996)

Ella & Friends ([GRP] GRP 1996)

One Side of Me (Master Series 1996)

Fabulous (Musketeer 1996)

First Lady of Jazz (Leader Music 1996)

A-Tisket A-Tasket ([Hallmark] Hallmark 1996)

Together (Collector's 1996)

Rhythm & Romance ([ASV] Charly Budget 1997)

Sings Songs from Let No Man Write My Epitaph (Classic 1997)

Celebrated (Magnum America 1998)

In Budapest [live] (Pablo 1999)

The Enchanting Ella Fitzgerald: Live at... (Baldwin Street 2000)

The Very Best of Ella Fitzgerald ([Pulse] Pulse 2000)

A Kiss Goodnight (2001)

Ella Fitzgerald & Friends at Birdland:... [live] (Jazz Band 2001)

2001 Lady Be Good:  Live Just Jazz

Ella Fitzgerald
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Background information:
Birth name    Ella Jane Fitzgerald
Born    April 25, 1917
Newport News, Virginia, United States
Died    June 15, 1996 (aged 79)
Beverly Hills, California, United States
Genres    Swing, bebop, traditional pop, vocal jazz
Occupations    Singer, actress
Instruments    Vocals
Years active    1934–1993
Labels    Capitol, Decca, Pablo, Reprise, Verve

Ella Jane Fitzgerald (April 25, 1917 – June 15, 1996) was an American jazz vocalist with a vocal range spanning three octaves (D♭3 to D♭6).[1] Often referred to as the "First Lady of Song" and the "Queen of Jazz," she was noted for her purity of tone, impeccable diction, phrasing and intonation, and a "horn-like" improvisational ability, particularly in her scat singing.

Fitzgerald was a notable interpreter of the Great American Songbook.[2] Over the course of her 60-year recording career, she sold 40 million copies of her 70-plus albums, won 14 Grammy Awards and was awarded the National Medal of Arts by Ronald Reagan and the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George H. W. Bush.

1 Early life
2 Early career
3 Decca years
4 Verve years
5 Film and television
6 Collaborations
7 Later life and death
8 Personal life
9 Discography and collections
10 Awards, citations and honors
11 Tributes and legacy
12 References
13 Further reading
14 External links

Early life

Fitzgerald was born in Newport News, Virginia, the daughter of William Fitzgerald and Temperance "Tempie" Fitzgerald.[3] Her parents were unmarried, and they had separated within a year of her birth.[3] With her mother's new partner, a Portuguese immigrant named Joseph Da Silva, Ella and her mother moved to the city of Yonkers, in Westchester County, New York, as part of the first Great Migration of African Americans.[3] Initially living in a single room, her mother and Da Silva soon found jobs and Ella's half-sister, Frances Da Silva, was born in 1923.[4] By 1925, Fitzgerald and her family had moved to nearby School Street, then a predominantly poor Italian area.[4] At the age of six, Fitzgerald began her formal education, and moved through a variety of schools before attending Benjamin Franklin Junior High School from 1929.[5]

Fitzgerald had been passionate about dancing from third grade, being a fan of Earl "Snakehips" Tucker in particular, and would perform for her peers on the way to school and at lunchtime.[6] Fitzgerald and her family were Methodists and were active in the Bethany African Methodist Episcopal Church, and she regularly attended worship services, Bible study, and Sunday school.[6] The church would have provided Fitzgerald with her earliest experiences in formal music making, and she may have also had piano lessons during this period if her mother could afford it.[5]

In her youth, Fitzgerald wanted to be a dancer, although she loved listening to jazz recordings by Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby and The Boswell Sisters. She idolized the lead singer Connee Boswell, later saying, "My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it....I tried so hard to sound just like her."[1]

In 1932, her mother died from a heart attack.[7] Following this trauma, Fitzgerald's grades dropped dramatically, and she frequently skipped school. Abused by her stepfather, she ran away to her aunt and,[8] at one point, worked as a lookout at a bordello and also with a Mafia-affiliated numbers runner.[9] When the authorities caught up with her, she was first placed in the Colored Orphan Asylum in Riverdale, Bronx.[8] However, when the orphanage proved too crowded, she was moved to the New York Training School for Girls in Hudson, New York, a state reformatory. Eventually she escaped and for a time she was homeless.[8]

Early career

She made her singing debut at 17 on November 21, 1934,[10] at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, New York.[11] She pulled in a weekly audience at the Apollo and won the opportunity to compete in one of the earliest of its famous "Amateur Nights". She had originally intended to go on stage and dance, but, intimidated by the Edwards Sisters, a local dance duo, she opted to sing instead in the style of Connee Boswell.[11][12] She sang Boswell's "Judy" and "The Object of My Affection," a song recorded by the Boswell Sisters, and won the first prize of US$25.00.[13]

In January 1935, Fitzgerald won the chance to perform for a week with the Tiny Bradshaw band at the Harlem Opera House.[10] She met drummer and bandleader Chick Webb there. Webb had already hired singer Charlie Linton to work with the band and was, The New York Times later wrote, "reluctant to sign her....because she was gawky and unkempt, a diamond in the rough."[1] Webb offered her the opportunity to test with his band when they played a dance at Yale University.[10] She began singing regularly with Webb's Orchestra through 1935 at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom.[10] Fitzgerald recorded several hit songs with them, including "Love and Kisses" and "(If You Can't Sing It) You'll Have to Swing It (Mr. Paganini)".[10] But it was her 1938 version of the nursery rhyme, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket", a song she co-wrote, that brought her wide public acclaim.

Chick Webb died on June 16, 1939,[14] and his band was renamed Ella and her Famous Orchestra with Ella taking on the role of nominal bandleader.[15] Fitzgerald recorded nearly 150 songs with the orchestra before it broke up in 1942, "the majority of them novelties and disposable pop fluff".[1]

Decca years

Fitzgerald performing with Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Brown, Milt Jackson and Timme Rosenkrantz in September 1947, New York
In 1942, Fitzgerald left the band to begin a solo career. Now signed to the Decca label, she had several popular hits while recording with such artists as Bill Kenny & The Ink Spots, Louis Jordan, and The Delta Rhythm Boys.

With Decca's Milt Gabler as her manager, she began working regularly for the jazz impresario Norman Granz and appeared regularly in his Jazz at the Philharmonic (JATP) concerts. Fitzgerald's relationship with Granz was further cemented when he became her manager, although it would be nearly a decade before he could record her on one of his many record labels.

With the demise of the Swing era and the decline of the great touring big bands, a major change in jazz music occurred. The advent of bebop led to new developments in Fitzgerald's vocal style, influenced by her work with Dizzy Gillespie's big band. It was in this period that Fitzgerald started including scat singing as a major part of her performance repertoire. While singing with Gillespie, Fitzgerald recalled, "I just tried to do [with my voice] what I heard the horns in the band doing."[13]

Her 1945 scat recording of "Flying Home" arranged by Vic Schoen would later be described by The New York Times as "one of the most influential vocal jazz records of the decade....Where other singers, most notably Louis Armstrong, had tried similar improvisation, no one before Miss Fitzgerald employed the technique with such dazzling inventiveness."[1] Her bebop recording of "Oh, Lady Be Good!" (1947) was similarly popular and increased her reputation as one of the leading jazz vocalists.

Verve years

Fitzgerald was still performing at Granz's JATP concerts by 1955. She left Decca and Granz, now her manager, created Verve Records around her. Fitzgerald later described the period as strategically crucial, saying, "I had gotten to the point where I was only singing be-bop. I thought be-bop was 'it', and that all I had to do was go some place and sing bop. But it finally got to the point where I had no place to sing. I realized then that there was more to music than bop. Norman ... felt that I should do other things, so he produced The Cole Porter Songbook with me. It was a turning point in my life."[1]

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Cole Porter Songbook, released in 1956, was the first of eight Songbook sets Fitzgerald would record for Verve at irregular intervals from 1956 to 1964. The composers and lyricists spotlighted on each set, taken together, represent the greatest part of the cultural canon known as the Great American Songbook. Her song selections ranged from standards to rarities and represented an attempt by Fitzgerald to cross over into a non-jazz audience. The sets are the most well-known items in her discography.

Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Song Book was the only Songbook on which the composer she interpreted played with her. Duke Ellington and his longtime collaborator Billy Strayhorn both appeared on exactly half the set's 38 tracks and wrote two new pieces of music for the album: "The E and D Blues" and a four-movement musical portrait of Fitzgerald (the only Songbook track on which Fitzgerald does not sing). The Songbook series ended up becoming the singer's most critically acclaimed and commercially successful work, and probably her most significant offering to American culture. The New York Times wrote in 1996, "These albums were among the first pop records to devote such serious attention to individual songwriters, and they were instrumental in establishing the pop album as a vehicle for serious musical exploration."[1]

A few days after Fitzgerald's death, The New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote that in the Songbook series Fitzgerald "performed a cultural transaction as extraordinary as Elvis' contemporaneous integration of white and African American soul. Here was a black woman popularizing urban songs often written by immigrant Jews to a national audience of predominantly white Christians."[9] Frank Sinatra was moved out of respect for Fitzgerald to block Capitol Records from re-releasing his own recordings in a similar, single composer vein.

Fitzgerald also recorded albums exclusively devoted to the songs of Porter and Gershwin in 1972 and 1983; the albums being, respectively, Ella Loves Cole and Nice Work If You Can Get It. A later collection devoted to a single composer was released during her time with Pablo Records, Ella Abraça Jobim, featuring the songs of Antônio Carlos Jobim.

While recording the Songbooks and the occasional studio album, Fitzgerald toured 40 to 45 weeks per year in the United States and internationally, under the tutelage of Norman Granz. Granz helped solidify her position as one of the leading live jazz performers.[1]

On March 15, 1955[16] Ella Fitzgerald opened her initial engagement at the Mocambo nightclub in Hollywood,[17] after Marilyn Monroe lobbied the owner for the booking.[18] The booking was instrumental in Fitzgerald's career. The incident was turned into a play by Bonnie Greer in 2005. It has been widely reported that Fitzgerald was the first Black performer to play the Mocambo, following Monroe's intervention, but this is not true. African-American singers Herb Jefferies,[19] Eartha Kitt,[20] and Joyce Bryan[21] all played the Mocambo in 1952 and 1953, according to stories published at the time in Jet magazine and Billboard.

There are several live albums on Verve that are highly regarded by critics. Ella at the Opera House shows a typical JATP set from Fitzgerald. Ella in Rome and Twelve Nights in Hollywood display her vocal jazz canon. Ella in Berlin is still one of her best selling albums; it includes a Grammy-winning performance of "Mack the Knife" in which she forgets the lyrics, but improvises magnificently to compensate.

Verve Records was sold to MGM in 1963 for $3 million and in 1967 MGM failed to renew Fitzgerald's contract. Over the next five years she flitted between Atlantic, Capitol and Reprise. Her material at this time represented a departure from her typical jazz repertoire. For Capitol she recorded Brighten the Corner, an album of hymns, Ella Fitzgerald's Christmas, an album of traditional Christmas carols, Misty Blue, a country and western-influenced album, and 30 by Ella, a series of six medleys that fulfilled her obligations for the label. During this period, she had her last US chart single with a cover of Smokey Robinson's "Get Ready", previously a hit for The Temptations, and some months later a top-five hit for Rare Earth.

The surprise success of the 1972 album Jazz at Santa Monica Civic '72 led Granz to found Pablo Records, his first record label since the sale of Verve. Fitzgerald recorded some 20 albums for the label. Ella in London recorded live in 1974 with pianist Tommy Flanagan, guitarist Joe Pass, bassist Keter Betts and drummer Bobby Durham, was considered by many to be some of her best work. The following year she again performed with Joe Pass on German television station NDR in Hamburg. Her years with Pablo Records also documented the decline in her voice. "She frequently used shorter, stabbing phrases, and her voice was harder, with a wider vibrato", one biographer wrote.[22] Plagued by health problems, Fitzgerald made her last recording in 1991 and her last public performances in 1993.[23]

Film and television

Fitzgerald shakes hands with President Ronald Reagan after performing in the White House, 1981
In her most notable screen role, Fitzgerald played the part of singer Maggie Jackson in Jack Webb's 1955 jazz film Pete Kelly's Blues.[24] The film costarred Janet Leigh and singer Peggy Lee.[25] Even though she had already worked in the movies (she had sung briefly in the 1942 Abbott and Costello film Ride 'Em Cowboy),[26] she was "delighted" when Norman Granz negotiated the role for her, and, "at the time....considered her role in the Warner Brothers movie the biggest thing ever to have happened to her."[22] Amid The New York Times pan of the film when it opened in August 1955, the reviewer wrote, "About five minutes (out of ninety-five) suggest the picture this might have been. Take the ingenious prologue ... [or] take the fleeting scenes when the wonderful Ella Fitzgerald, allotted a few spoken lines, fills the screen and sound track with her strong mobile features and voice."[27] Fitzgerald's race precluded major big-screen success. After Pete Kelly's Blues, she appeared in sporadic movie cameos, in St. Louis Blues (1958),[28] and Let No Man Write My Epitaph (1960).[29] Much later, she appeared in the 1980s television drama The White Shadow.

She made numerous guest appearances on television shows, singing on The Frank Sinatra Show, The Andy Williams Show, The Pat Boone Chevy Showroom, and alongside other greats Nat King Cole, Dean Martin, Mel Tormé, and many others. She was also frequently featured on The Ed Sullivan Show. Perhaps her most unusual and intriguing performance was of the "Three Little Maids" song from Gilbert and Sullivan's comic operetta The Mikado alongside Joan Sutherland and Dinah Shore on Shore's weekly variety series in 1963. A performance at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London was filmed and shown on the BBC. Fitzgerald also made a one-off appearance alongside Sarah Vaughan and Pearl Bailey on a 1979 television special honoring Bailey. In 1980, she performed a medley of standards in a duet with Karen Carpenter on the Carpenters' television program Music, Music, Music.[30]

Fitzgerald also appeared in TV commercials, her most memorable being an ad for Memorex.[31] In the commercials, she sang a note that shattered a glass while being recorded on a Memorex cassette tape.[32] The tape was played back and the recording also broke the glass, asking: "Is it live, or is it Memorex?"[32] She also starred in a number of commercials for Kentucky Fried Chicken, singing and scatting to the fast-food chain's longtime slogan, "We do chicken right!"[33] Her final commercial campaign was for American Express, in which she was photographed by Annie Leibovitz.[34]


Fitzgerald's most famous collaborations were with the vocal quartet Bill Kenny & The Ink Spots, trumpeter Louis Armstrong, the guitarist Joe Pass, and the bandleaders Count Basie and Duke Ellington.

From 1943 to 1950, Fitzgerald recorded seven songs with The Ink Spots featuring Bill Kenny. Out of all seven recordings, four reached the top of the pop charts including "I'm Making Believe" and "Into Each Life Some Rain Must Fall" which both reached #1.

Fitzgerald recorded three Verve studio albums with Armstrong, two albums of standards (1956's Ella and Louis and 1957's Ella and Louis Again), and a third album featured music from the Gershwin musical Porgy and Bess. Fitzgerald also recorded a number of sides with Armstrong for Decca in the early 1950s.

Fitzgerald is sometimes referred to as the quintessential swing singer, and her meetings with Count Basie are highly regarded by critics. Fitzgerald features on one track on Basie's 1957 album One O'Clock Jump, while her 1963 album Ella and Basie! is remembered as one of her greatest recordings. With the 'New Testament' Basie band in full swing, and arrangements written by a young Quincy Jones, this album proved a respite from the 'Songbook' recordings and constant touring that Fitzgerald was engaged in during this period. Fitzgerald and Basie also collaborated on the 1972 album Jazz at Santa Monica Civic '72, and on the 1979 albums Digital III at Montreux, A Classy Pair and A Perfect Match.

Fitzgerald and Joe Pass recorded four albums together toward the end of Fitzgerald's career. She recorded several albums with piano accompaniment, but a guitar proved the perfect melodic foil for her. Fitzgerald and Pass appeared together on the albums Take Love Easy (1973), Easy Living (1986), Speak Love (1983) and Fitzgerald and Pass... Again (1976).

Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington recorded two live albums, and two studio albums. Her Duke Ellington Songbook placed Ellington firmly in the canon known as the Great American Songbook, and the 1960s saw Fitzgerald and the 'Duke' meet on the Côte d'Azur for the 1966 album Ella and Duke at the Cote D'Azur, and in Sweden for The Stockholm Concert, 1966. Their 1965 album Ella at Duke's Place is also extremely well received.

Fitzgerald had a number of famous jazz musicians and soloists as sidemen over her long career. The trumpeters Roy Eldridge and Dizzy Gillespie, the guitarist Herb Ellis, and the pianists Tommy Flanagan, Oscar Peterson, Lou Levy, Paul Smith, Jimmy Rowles, and Ellis Larkins all worked with Ella mostly in live, small group settings.

Possibly Fitzgerald's greatest unrealized collaboration (in terms of popular music) was a studio or live album with Frank Sinatra. The two appeared on the same stage only periodically over the years, in television specials in 1958 and 1959, and again on 1967's A Man and His Music + Ella + Jobim, a show that also featured Antônio Carlos Jobim. Pianist Paul Smith has said, "Ella loved working with [Frank]. Sinatra gave her his dressing-room on A Man and His Music and couldn't do enough for her." When asked, Norman Granz would cite "complex contractual reasons" for the fact that the two artists never recorded together.[22] Fitzgerald's appearance with Sinatra and Count Basie in June 1974 for a series of concerts at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas, was seen as an important incentive for Sinatra to return from his self-imposed retirement of the early 1970s. The shows were a great success, and September 1975 saw them gross $1,000,000 in two weeks on Broadway, in a triumvirate with the Count Basie Orchestra.

Later life and death

In 1985, Fitzgerald was hospitalized briefly for respiratory problems,[35] in 1986 for congestive heart failure,[36] and in 1990 for exhaustion.[37] In 1993, she had to have both of her legs amputated below the knee due to the effects of diabetes.[38] Her eyesight was affected as well.[1]

In 1996, tired of being in the hospital, she wished to spend her last days at home. Confined to a wheelchair, she spent her final days in her backyard of her Beverly Hills mansion on Whittier, with her son Ray and 12 year old granddaughter Alice. "I just want to smell the air, listen to the birds and hear Alice laugh," she reportedly said. On her last day, she was wheeled outside one last time, and sat there for about an hour. When she was taken back in, she looked up with a soft smile on her face and said, "I'm ready to go now." She died in her home on June 15, 1996 at the age of 79.[1] A few hours after her death, the Playboy Jazz Festival was launched at the Hollywood Bowl. In tribute, the marquee read: "Ella We Will Miss You."[39] Her funeral was private,[39] and she was buried at Inglewood Park Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Personal life

Fitzgerald married at least twice, and there is evidence that she may have married a third time. In 1941, she married Benny Kornegay, a convicted drug dealer and local dockworker. The marriage was annulled after two years.

Her second marriage, in December 1947, was to the famous bass player Ray Brown, whom she had met while on tour with Dizzy Gillespie's band a year earlier. Together they adopted a child born to Fitzgerald's half-sister, Frances, whom they christened Ray Brown, Jr. With Fitzgerald and Brown often busy touring and recording, the child was largely raised by her aunt, Virginia. Fitzgerald and Brown divorced in 1953, bowing to the various career pressures both were experiencing at the time, though they would continue to perform together.[1]

In July 1957, Reuters reported that Fitzgerald had secretly married Thor Einar Larsen, a young Norwegian, in Oslo. She had even gone as far as furnishing an apartment in Oslo, but the affair was quickly forgotten when Larsen was sentenced to five months hard labor in Sweden for stealing money from a young woman to whom he had previously been engaged.[22]

Fitzgerald was also notoriously shy. Trumpet player Mario Bauzá, who played behind Fitzgerald in her early years with Chick Webb, remembered that "she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music....She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."[22] When, later in her career, the Society of Singers named an award after her, Fitzgerald explained, "I don't want to say the wrong thing, which I always do but I think I do better when I sing."[13]

Fitzgerald was a quiet but ardent supporter of many charities and non-profit organizations, including the American Heart Association and the City of Hope Medical Center. In 1993, she established the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation.[40]

Discography and collections[edit]
Further information: Ella Fitzgerald discography
The primary collections of Fitzgerald's media and memorabilia reside at and are shared between the Smithsonian Institution and the US Library of Congress [41]

Awards, citations and honors

Further information: List of awards received by Ella Fitzgerald
Fitzgerald won thirteen Grammy Awards, including one for Lifetime Achievement in 1967.

Other major awards and honors she received during her career were the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Medal of Honor Award, National Medal of Art, first Society of Singers Lifetime Achievement Award, named "Ella" in her honor, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement, UCLA Spring Sing.[42] Across town at the University of Southern California, she received the USC "Magnum Opus" Award which hangs in the office of the Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation. In 1990, she received an honorary doctorate of Music from Harvard University.[43]

Tributes and legacy

The career history and archival material from Ella's long career are housed in the Archives Center at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, while her personal music arrangements are at the Library of Congress. Her extensive cookbook collection was donated to the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University, and her extensive collection of published sheet music was donated to UCLA.

In 1997, Newport News, Virginia created a music festival with Christopher Newport University to honor Ella Fitzgerald in her birth city. The Ella Fitzgerald Music Festival is designed to teach the region's youth of the musical legacy of Fitzgerald and jazz. Past performers at the week-long festival include: Diana Krall, Arturo Sandoval, Jean Carne, Phil Woods, Aretha Franklin, Freda Payne, Cassandra Wilson, Ethel Ennis, David Sanborn, Jane Monheit, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Ramsey Lewis, Patti Austin, and Ann Hampton Callaway.

Callaway, Dee Dee Bridgewater, and Patti Austin have all recorded albums in tribute to Fitzgerald. Callaway's album To Ella with Love (1996) features fourteen jazz standards made popular by Fitzgerald, and the album also features the trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Bridgewater's album Dear Ella (1997) featured many musicians that were closely associated with Fitzgerald during her career, including the pianist Lou Levy, the trumpeter Benny Powell, and Fitzgerald's second husband, double bassist Ray Brown. Bridgewater's following album, Live at Yoshi's, was recorded live on April 25, 1998, what would have been Fitzgerald's 81st birthday.

Austin's album, For Ella (2002) features 11 songs most immediately associated with Fitzgerald, and a twelfth song, "Hearing Ella Sing" is Austin's tribute to Fitzgerald. The album was nominated for a Grammy. In 2007, We All Love Ella, was released, a tribute album recorded for the 90th anniversary of Fitzgerald's birth. It featured artists such as Michael Bublé, Natalie Cole, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Diana Krall, k.d. lang, Queen Latifah, Ledisi, Dianne Reeves, Linda Ronstadt, and Lizz Wright, collating songs most readily associated with the "First Lady of Song". Folk singer Odetta's album To Ella (1998) is dedicated to Fitzgerald, but features no songs associated with her. Her accompanist Tommy Flanagan affectionately remembered Fitzgerald on his album Lady be Good ... For Ella (1994).

Fitzgerald is also referred to on the 1987 song "Ella, elle l'a" by French singer France Gall, the 1976 Stevie Wonder hit "Sir Duke" from his album Songs in the Key of Life, and the song "I Love Being Here With You", written by Peggy Lee and Bill Schluger. Sinatra's 1986 recording of "Mack the Knife" from his album L.A. Is My Lady (1984) includes a homage to some of the song's previous performers, including 'Lady Ella' herself. She is also honored in the song "First Lady" by Canadian artist Nikki Yanofsky.

In 2008, the Downing-Gross Cultural Arts Center in Newport News named its brand new 276-seat theater the Ella Fitzgerald Theater. The theater is located several blocks away from her birthplace on Marshall Avenue. The Grand Opening performers (October 11 and 12, 2008) were Roberta Flack and Queen Esther Marrow.

In 2012, Rod Stewart performed a "virtual duet" with Ella Fitzgerald on his Christmas album Merry Christmas, Baby, and his television special of the same name.[44]

In 2013, Google paid tribute to Ella by celebrating her 96th birthday with a Google Doodle on its US homepage.[45]

There is a bronze sculpture of Fitzgerald in Yonkers, the city in which she grew up, created by American artist Vinnie Bagwell. It is located southeast of the main entrance to the Amtrak/Metro-North Railroad station in front of the city's old trolley barn. A bust of Fitzgerald is on the campus of Chapman University in Orange, California. On January 9, 2007, the United States Postal Service announced that Fitzgerald would be honored with her own postage stamp.[31] The stamp was released in April 2007 as part of the Postal Service's Black Heritage series.[46]


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^ Jump up to: a b c d e Fritts, Ron; Vail, Ken (January 1, 2003). Ella Fitzgerald: The Chick Webb Years & Beyond. Scarecrow Press. p. 4–6. ISBN 978-0-8108-4881-8. Retrieved February 23, 2014.
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^ Jump up to: a b Weinstein, Henry; Brazil, Jeff (June 16, 1996). "Ella Fitzgerald, Jazz's First Lady of Song, Dies". Los Angeles Times. pp. 1–3. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
Jump up ^ "Ella Fitzgerald Charitable Foundation". Retrieved April 25, 2013.
Jump up ^ Wong, Hannah. "'First Lady of Song' LC Collection Tells Ella Fitzgerald Story". LOC. Retrieved March 19, 2013.
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Jump up ^ "Google Doodle celebrates birthday of jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald". The Independent. April 25, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
Jump up ^ "New Stamp Honors First Lady of Song". WHSV News 3. January 9, 2007. Retrieved December 2, 2009.
Gourse, Leslie (1998). The Ella Fitzgerald Companion. London: Omnibus Press. ISBN 0-7119-6916-7.
Johnson, J. Wilfred (2001). Ella Fitzgerald: An Annotated Discography. McFarland. ISBN 0-7864-0906-1.
Nicholson, Stuart (1996). Ella Fitzgerald: 1917-1996. London: Indigo. ISBN 978-0-575-40032-0.
Further reading[edit]
Library resources about
Ella Fitzgerald
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
By Ella Fitzgerald
Resources in your library
Resources in other libraries
Nicholson, Stuart. (1996) Ella Fitzgerald. Gollancz; ISBN 0-575-40032-3
Gourse, Leslie. (1998) The Ella Fitzgerald Companion: Seven Decades of Commentary. Music Sales Ltd.; ISBN 0-02-864625-8
Johnson, J. Wilfred. (2001) Ella Fitzgerald: A Complete Annotated Discography. McFarland & Co Inc.; ISBN 0-7864-0906-1
External links[edit]
Biography portal
Music portal

Book: Ella Fitzgerald
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ella Fitzgerald.
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Ella Fitzgerald
Ella Fitzgerald at the Internet Movie Database
Ella Fitzgerald at the Internet Broadway Database
Ella Fitzgerald at Find a Grave
Ella Fitzgerald at the Library of Congress
'Remembering Ella' by Phillip D. Atteberry
Listen to Big Band Serenade podcast, episode 6 Includes complete NBC remote broadcast of "Ella Fitzgerald & her Orchestra" from the Roseland Ballroom (or download)

Friday, April 25, 2014

Joe Henderson (1934-2001), Major Saxophonist, Composer, and Bandleader: A Tribute On His 77th Birthday

(b. April 24, 1937--d. June 30, 2001)

Joe Henderson (tenor saxophonist) was born on April 24, 1937 in Lima, Ohio and passed away on June 30, 2001 in San Francisco, California.

Born in the small city of Lima Ohio between Dayton and Toledo, he spent his childhood and adolescence years in a family of 15 children where he was exposed to a variety of musical styles, and was encouraged by his parents and older brother James T. to study music. He dedicated his first album to them for being so understanding and tolerant during his formative years.

By the time he was a high school student he was already arranging and writing music for the school band and other local outfits. It was in high school that a music teacher introduced him to the tenor saxophone. After graduation he enrolled first at the Kentucky State College to study music and then moved on to Wayne State University in Detroit. There he had as classmates several future jazz greats such as Yusef Lateef and Donald Byrd. From 1960-1962 he enlisted in the US army where he led several small jazz groups and won first place in a musical competition and was sent on a tour to entertain the troops all over Japan and Europe where he met a few of the expatriate musicians.

The Blue Note Years

After being discharged from the army he traveled to New York and sat in at Birdland with Dexter Gordon and other local musicians. During one of these sessions he was introduced to the trumpeter Kenny Dorham who was so impressed by his musicianship that he arranged for Joe Henderson’s first recording session as a leader with Blue Note Records. This resulted in the record Page One (1963) which to this day remains one of his most critically acclaimed albums. This recording also spawned the standard Blue Bossa.

During the following 4 years he led four other sessions for Blue Note and recorded as sideman on over to two dozen albums for the same label. Some of these records are today classics of not only the label but also of jazz music. Andrew Hill’s Point of Departure, Larry Young’s Unity, Horace Silver’s Song For My Father and Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder are just a few examples of those fruitful years. In addition to creating timeless music Joe Henderson’s style also evolved during this period to incorporate all genres of jazz, from hard bop to avant garde, from latin to soul-jazz.

The Milestone / Verve Years

From 1967-1979 he recorded primarily for the Milestone label with occasional sessions as a leader for the Verve label and one, sorely underappreciated, record for the Enja label called Barcelona. Over this “middle period” of his career his style gradually evolved from the powerful acoustic style of post bop to fusion, electric music, avant garde and back to post-bop. Through all the changes, however, his virtuosity remained intact even when the some of the later records from this period were overall not as creative as his other works. During these years he also composed prolifically and co-led groups with Freddie Hubbard and Herbie Hancock. His forays outside of the realm of jazz led him to play with Blood Sweat and Tears and other rock and R & B groups. In the early seventies Joe Henderson became involved in teaching as well and moved to San Francisco.

The Latter Years: 80s & 90s

The highlight of the 80s in Joe Henderson’s career was the recording of the phenomenal live session at the Village Vanguard released on a two disc set as The State of the Tenor Live at the Village Vanguard. It is a live trio set with bass and drums similar to Sonny Rollins’ landmark recordings of over 2 decades before. Despite garnering critical accolades the record remains underappreciated and not as well known as it should be.

During the 90s Joe Henderson recorded 3 tribute sessions for Verve that were not only critically acclaimed but were also commercially highly successful. He won multiple Down Beat music awards in 1992, including the international critics and readers polls, was named jazz musician of the year and top tenor saxophonist. The first of the tribute albums Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn, named album of the year and went on to sell more than 450,000 worldwide in one year (1992); 100,000 copies of it in the United States. The success of those records launched his international career and he performed at many an international jazz festival and concert hall. The second of these albums So Near So Far: Musings for Miles won him a Grammy for best jazz performance. The decade also saw him recording as a sideman with a number of up and coming jazz musicians such as Renee Rosnes, Rebecca Coupe Franks, Stephen Scott and Holy Cole just to name a few.

In 1997 he recorded his last album Porgy and Bess and a year later he suffered a stroke that kept him from performing and in poor health. The world of jazz lost one of its great composers and most accomplished musicians on June 30th 2001 when Joe Henderson passed away from emphysema in San Francisco.

Jazz Profiles
Focused profiles on Jazz and its makers.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Joe Henderson – Revelatory
© -Steven Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

For nearly thirty years, Henderson has possessed his own sound and has developed his own angles on swing, melody, timbre and harmony, while constantly expanding his own skill at playing in uncommon meters and rhythms. In his playing you hear an imposing variety of harmonic, rhythmic and melodic choices; you also hear his personal appropriation of the technical victories for his instrument achieved by men such as Sonny Stitt, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins, Warne Marsh, Paul Gonsalves, Johnny Griffin and John Coltrane.

His, then, is a style informed by enormous sophistication, not limited by insufficient study or dependence on eccentric clichés brought into action for the purpose of masking the lack of detailed authority. In this tenor playing there's a relaxation in face of options that stretch from Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Charlie Parker to all of the substantial innovations since. So the music of Joe Henderson contains all of the components that make jazz so unique and so influential woven together with the sort of feeling, imagination, soul and technical authority that do the art proud.
- Stanley Crouch, Jazz author and critic

In connection with Joe Henderson’s music, “revelatory” has as it’s meaning so much that is eloquent, expressive and significant that it is difficult to understand how often it is often overlooked, let alone, taken for granted by Jazz fans in general.

Names such as Coleman Hawkins, Chu Berry, Lester Young, Stan Getz, Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane are often mentioned as great tenor saxophonists, but Joe Henderson’s name is rarely among them.

It should be.

Joe’s sound and approach to improvisation are as distinctive and unique as any of the great tenor masters and his influence on generations of Jazz musicians has been huge.

Take for example this assessment of Joe’s significance by guitarist John Scofield:

"Joe Henderson is the essence of jazz ….He embodies musically all the different elements that came together in his generation: hard-bop masterfulness plus the avant-garde. He's a great bopper like Hank Mobley or Sonny Stitt, but he also plays out. He can take it far harmonically, but still with roots. He's a great blues player, a great ballads player. He has one of the most beautiful tones and can set as pretty as Pres or Stan Getz. He's got unbeliev able time. He can float, but he can also dig in. He can put the music wherever he wants it. He's got his own vocabu lary, his own phrases he plays all dif ferent ways, like all the great jazz players. He plays songs in his improv isations. He'll play a blues shout like something that would come from Joe Turner, next to some of the fastest, outest, most angular, atonal music you've ever heard. Who's playing bet ter on any instrument, more interest ingly, more cutting edge yet complete ly with roots than Joe Henderson? He's my role model in jazz."

And Joe is also no secret to the tenor saxophonists who evolved under his influence in the generation following his such as Joe Lovano and Branford Marsalis.

"Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter emerged at the same time with their own sounds and rhythms and tunes. They inspired me as a young player …. He's always had his own voice. He's developed his own concepts with the inspirations of the people he dug but without copying them. I hear Joe in other tenor players. I hear not only phrases copped from Joe, but lately I hear younger cats trying to cop his sound. That's who you are as a player: your sound. It's one thing to learn from someone, but to copy his sound is strange. Joe's solo development live is a real journey — and you can't cop that! He's on an adventure whenever he plays." - Joe Lovano

"Joe Henderson is one of the most influential saxophone players of the 20th century …. I learned all the solos on Mode for Joe and the records he did with McCoy Tyner, a lot of the stuff he's on, like The Prison er. He was one of the few saxophone players who could really play what I call the modern music, that really came from the bebop tradition but extended the harmonic tradition fur ther. There's a small group of guys in that pantheon: Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Warne Marsh, Lucky Thompson, Sonny and Ornette, and Joe Hen. He's an amazing musician. I'm really jaded. I don't really go to the clubs anymore. There's not really anything I want to hear — except when Joe's in town. And when Joe's in town, I'm there every night!"
– Branford Marsalis

I got to know Joe a bit after the time of his interview with Michael Bourne for Downbeat [March, 1992; see below]. He had just finished the Lush Life [Verve/Polygram 314 511 779-2] tribute to Bill Strayhorn and was working on the charts that would appear a few years later on the Joe Henderson Big Band CD [Verve/Polygram 314 533 451-2].

He and I lived on either side of Divisadero Street in central San Francisco. Divisadero is a north-south traffic throughway that cuts through several neighborhoods, including Lower Haight, Alamo Square, Pacific Heights, and the Marina and offers a kaleidoscopic mix of dining, grocery, and merchant fronts that serve each neighborhood.

The first time we met, Joe was sitting in a barbecue ribs place on Divisadero called The Brothers and while I waited for my take-out order I spotted him sitting quietly in a window seat reading some music scoring sheets.

For years, Joe wore a straw-hat version of Lester Young’s pork-pie hat and big suspenders that adorned shirts with thick, colorful stripes. This garb along with his salt and pepper beard was a dead give-away so I sauntered up to him and said: “You’re Kenny Dorham aren’t you?" [Joe was close friends with trumpeter and composer Dorham and made his recording debut on Kenny’s Una Mas Blue Note LP.]

He looked up from his scores with a momentary, puzzled look that quickly turned into a smile once he saw that I was wearing one too.

Motioning me to sit down at the table next to him he asked: “And what would you know about Kenny Dorham?”

That conversation in various forms took on a life of its own for a number of years in a variety of Divisadero locations ranging from coffee shops to pizzerias.

During this period, Joe often talked about his big band disc which was issued on Verve in 1996 [314 533 451-2].

I didn’t see him very much after the Joe Henderson Big Band CD was released as by then I had moved to the West Portal area of the city.

Joe died in 2001 at the much-too-young-age of sixty-four [64].

The editorial staff at JazzProfiles wanted to remember Joe on these pages with this interview which is followed by a video playlist of Joe’s original compositions and/or solos by Joe in other settings.

© -Michael Bourne/Downbeat, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

He's not Pres-like or Bird-like, not 'Trane-ish or Newk-ish. None of the stylistic adjec tives so convenient for critics work for tenor saxist Joe Henderson. It's evident he's listened to the greats:  to Lester Young, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins — to them and all the others he's enjoyed. But he doesn't play like them, doesn't sound like them. Joe Henderson is a master, and, like the greats, unique.

When he came along in the '60s, jazz was happening every which way, from mainstream and avant-garde to blues, rock and then some, and everything that was happening he played. Henderson's saxo phone became a Triton's horn and trans formed the music, whatever the style, whatever the groove, into himself. And he's no different (or, really, always different) today. There's no "typical" Joe Henderson album, and every solo is, like the soloist, original and unusual, thoughtful and always from the heart.

"I think playing the saxophone is what I'm supposed to be doing on this planet," says Joe Henderson. "We all have to do some thing. I play the saxo phone. It's the best way I know that I can make the largest number of people happy and get for myself the largest amount of happiness."

Joe was born April 24, 1937, in Lima, Ohio. When he was nine he was tested for musical aptitude. "I wanted to play drums. I'd be making drums out of my mother's pie pans. But they said I'd gotten a high enough score that I could play anything, and they gave me a saxophone. It was a C melody. I played that about six months and went to the tenor. I was kind of born on the tenor." Even before he played, Joe was fasci nated by his brother's jazz records. "I lis tened to Lester Young, Flip Phillips, Stan Getz, Charlie Parker, all the people associ ated with Jazz at the Philharmonic.
This stuff went into my ears early on, so when I started to play the saxophone I had in my mind an idea of how that instrument was supposed to sound. I also heard the rhythm-and-blues saxophone players when they came through my hometown."

Soon he was playing dances and learn ing melodies with his friends. "I think of playing music on the bandstand like an actor relates to a role. I've always wanted to be the best inter preter the world has ever seen. Where a preco cious youngster gets an idea like that is beyond me, but somehow improv isation set in on me pretty early, probably before I knew what improvisation was, really. I've always tried to re-create melodies even better than the composers who wrote them. I've always tried to come up with something that never even occurred to them. This is the challenge: not to rearrange the intentions of the composers but to stay within the parameters of what the composers have in mind and be creative and imaginative and meaningful."

One melody that's become almost as much Henderson's as the composer's is Ask Me Now by Thelonious Monk. He's recorded it often, each performance an odyssey of sounds and feelings.

"I play it 75 percent of the time because I like it and the other 25 percent because it's demanded that I play it. I sometimes have to play it twice a night, even three times. That tune just laid around for a while. Monk did an incredible job on it, but other than Monk I don't think I heard anyone play it before I recorded it. It's a great tune, very simple. There are some melodies that just stand by themselves. Gershwin was that kind of writer. You don't even have to improvise. You don't have to do anything but play the melody and people will be pleased. One of the songs like that is Lush Life. That's for me the most beautiful tune ever written. It's even more profound knowing that Hilly Strayhorn wrote it, words and music, when he was 17 or 18. How does an 18-year-old arrive at that point of feeling, that depth'"

Lush Life is the title song of Henderson's new album of Strayhorn's music. "Musicians have to plant some trees—and replant some trees to extend the life of these good things. Billy Strayhorn was one of the people whose talent should be known. Duke Ellington knew about him, so that says something. There are still a lot of peo ple who haven't heard Strayhorn's music, but if I can do something to enable them to become aware of Strayhorn's genius. I'd feel great about that."

Lush Life is the first of several projects he'll record for Verve. Don Sickler worked with Henderson selecting and arranging some of Strayhorn's classics and, with Polygram Jazz VP Richard Seidel, pro duced the album. Henderson plays Lush Life alone, and, on the other songs he's joined for duets to quintets by four of the brightest young players around, pianist Stephen Scott, bassist Christian McBride, drummer Gregory Hutchinson, and trum peter Wynton Marsalis. That the interplay of generations is respectful, inspirational and affectionate is obvious.

"I think this was part of it, to present some of the youngsters with one of the more established voices. This is the natural way that it happens. This is the way it hap pened for me. I wouldn't have met the peo ple I met if it hadn't been for Kenny Dorham, Horace Silver, Miles Davis, peo ple I've been on the bandstand with. They introduced me to their audience. We have to do things like this. When older musicians like me find people who can continue the tradition, we have to create ways to bring these people to the fore."

Henderson came to the fore in the '60s. He'd studied for a year at Kentucky State, then four years at Wayne State in Detroit, where he often gigged alongside Yusef Lateef, Barry Harris, Hugh Lawson and Donald Byrd. He was drafted in 1960 and played bass in a military show that traveled the world. While touring in 1961, he met and played with Bud Powell and Kenny Clarke in Paris. Once he was dis charged in 1962, he settled in New York, where so many of his friends from Detroit were already regulars, and where trum peter Kenny Dorham became a brother.

"Kenny Dorham was one of the most important creators in New York, and he's damn near a name you don't hear any more. That's a shame. How can you over look a diamond in the rough like him? There haven't been that many people who have that much on the ball creatively as Kenny Dorham."

Henderson's first professional record ing was Dorham's album Una Mas, the first of many albums he recorded through the '60s as a sideman or a leader for Blue Note. This was the classic time of Blue Note, and what's most remarkable is the variety of music Henderson played, from the grooves of Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder to the avant-garde sounds of Andrew Hill's Point of Departure. Whatever was happening musically, Joe Henderson was a natural.

"That's part of what I wanted to do early on — be the best interpreter I could pos sibly be. I wanted to interpret Andrew Hill's music better than he could write it, the same with Duke Pearson and Horace Silver. I'd study and try to find ways of being imagina tive and interesting for this music without changing the music around. I didn't want to make Horace Silver's music different from what he had in mind. I wanted to make it even more of what he had in mind."

He joined the Horace Silver band for several years and fronted a big band with
Kenny Dorham — music he'll re-create and record this year at Lincoln Center. He worked with Blood, Sweat and Tears for a minute in 1969, but quit to work with Miles Davis.

"Miles, Wayne Shorter and I were the only constants in the band. I never knew who was going to show up. There'd be a different drummer every night—Tony Williams, Jack De Johnette, Billy Cobham. Ron Carter would play one night, next night Miroslav Vitous or Eddie Gomez. Chick Corea would play one night, next night Herbie Hancock. It never settled. We played all around but never recorded. This was previous to everyone having Walkman recorders. Miles had a great sense of humor. I couldn't stop laughing. I'd be on the bandstand and I'd remember some thing he said in the car to the gig, and right in the middle of a phrase I'd crack up!"

Henderson's worked more and more as a leader ever since, and recorded many albums, like Lush Life, with particular ideals. He recorded "concept" albums like The Elements with Alice Coltrane and was among the first to experiment with the new sounds of synthesizers. He composed tunes like Power to the People with a more social point of view. "I got politically involved in a musical way. Especially in the '60s, when people were trying to effect a cure for the ills that have beset this country for such a long time, I thought I'd use the music to convey some of my thoughts. I'd think of a title like Black Narcissus, and then put the music together. I'd try to create a nice melody, but at the same time, when people heard it on the radio, a title like Afro-Centric or Power to the People made a statement."

Words have always inspired Joe Hen derson. "I try to create ideas in a musical way the same as writers try to create images with words. I use the mechanics of writing in playing solos. I use quotations. I use com mas, semicolons. Pepper Adams turned me on to a writer, Henry Robinson. He wrote a sentence that spanned three or four pages before the period came. And it wasn't a stream of consciousness that went on and on and on. He was stopping, pausing in places with hyphens, brackets around things. He kept moving from left to right with this thought. I can remember in Detroit trying to do that, trying to play the longest meaningful phrase that I could pos sibly play before I took the obvious breath."

Henderson names Truman Capote, Norman Mailer, Herman Hesse and the Bible among his favorites. "I think the creative faculties are the same whether you're a musician, a writer, a painter. I can appre ciate a painter as if he were a musician playing a phrase with a stroke, the way he'll match two colors together the same as I'll match two tones together."

He tells a story uniquely as a soloist and composer, and he's inspired many musicians through the years. But what sometimes bothers Henderson is when oth ers imitate his strokes and his colors, but don't name the source. He heard a popular tenor saxist a while ago and was staggered. "I heard eight bars at a time that I know I worked out. I can tell you when I worked the music out. I can show you the music when I was putting it together. But when guys like this do an interview they don't acknowledge me. I'm not about to be bitter about this, but I've always felt good about acknowledging people who've had some thing to do with what I'm about. I've played the ideas of other people—Lester Young, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Lee Konitz, Stan Getz — and I mention these guys whenever I do an interview. But there are players who are putting stuff out as if it's their music and they didn't create it. I did."

He's nonetheless happy these days and amused about some of the excitement about Lush Life, that the new album, like every new album from Joe Henderson, feels like a comeback. "I have by no means vanished from the scene. I've never stopped playing. I'm very much at home in the trenches. I'm right out there on the front line. That's where I exist. I've been inspired joining the family at Polygram in a way I haven't been inspired in a long time. I'm gonna get busy and do what I'm supposed to do."

Joe Henderson
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Background information
Born April 24, 1937
Lima, Ohio, United States
Died June 30, 2001 (aged 64)
San Francisco, California, United States
Genres Hard bop
Mainstream jazz
Jazz fusion
Years active 1960–1998
Labels Blue Note, Verve, Milestone
Associated acts Kenny Dorham, Andrew Hill, Grant Green, Freddie Hubbard, Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Horace Silver, Charlie Haden, Ron Carter, Elvin Jones, Bobby Hutcherson, Lee Morgan, Richard Davis, Chick Corea, John Scofield, Flora Purim, Bob Cranshaw, Wynton Marsalis


Notable instrument:
Tenor saxophone

Joe Henderson (April 24, 1937 – June 30, 2001) was an American jazz tenor saxophonist. In a career spanning more than forty years Henderson played with many of the leading American players of his day and recorded for several prominent labels, including Blue Note.


1 Biography
1.1 Early life
1.2 Early career
1.3 Blue Note
1.4 Milestone
1.5 Later career and death
2 Discography
2.1 As leader
2.2 As sideman
3 References
4 External links


Early life

From a very large family with five sisters and nine brothers, Henderson was born in Lima, Ohio, and was encouraged by his parents and older brother James T. to study music. He dedicated his first album to them "for being so understanding and tolerant" during his formative years. Early musical interests included drums, piano, saxophone and composition. According to Kenny Dorham, two local piano teachers who went to school with Henderson's brothers and sisters, Richard Patterson and Don Hurless, gave him a knowledge of the piano.[1] He was particularly enamored of his brother's record collection. It seems that a hometown drummer, John Jarette, advised Henderson to listen to musicians like Lester Young, Stan Getz, Dexter Gordon and Charlie Parker.[1] He also liked Flip Phillips, Lee Konitz and the Jazz at the Philharmonic recordings. However, Parker became his greatest inspiration. His first approach to the saxophone was under the tutelage of Herbert Murphy in high school. In this period of time, he wrote several scores for the school band and rock groups.

By eighteen, Henderson was active on the Detroit jazz scene of the mid-'50s, playing in jam sessions with visiting New York stars. While attending classes of flute and bass at Wayne State University, he further developed his saxophone and compositional skills under the guidance of renowned teacher Larry Teal at the Teal School of Music. In late 1959, he formed his first group.[1] By the time he arrived at Wayne State University, he had transcribed and memorized so many Lester Young solos that his professors believed he had perfect pitch. Classmates Yusef Lateef, Barry Harris and Donald Byrd undoubtedly provided additional inspiration.[2] He also studied music at Kentucky State College.

Shortly prior to his army induction in 1960, Henderson was commissioned by UNAC to write some arrangements for the suite "Swings and Strings", which was later performed by a ten-member orchestra and the local dance band of Jimmy Wilkins.[1]

Early career

He spent two years (1960–1962) in the U.S. Army: firstly in Fort Benning, where he even competed in the army talent show and won the first place, then in Fort Belvoir, where he was chosen for a world tour, with a show to entertain soldiers. While in Paris, he met Kenny Drew and Kenny Clarke. Then he was sent to Maryland to conclude his draft. In 1962, he was finally discharged and promptly moved to New York. He first met trumpeter Kenny Dorham, an invaluable guidance for him, at saxophonist Junior Cook's place. That very evening, they went see Dexter Gordon playing at Birdland. Henderson was asked by Gordon himself to play something with his rhythm section; needless to say, he happily accepted.[1]

Although Henderson's earliest recordings were marked by a strong hard-bop influence, his playing encompassed not only the bebop tradition, but R&B, Latin and avant-garde as well. He soon joined Horace Silver's band and provided a seminal solo on the jukebox hit "Song for My Father". After leaving Silver's band in 1966, Henderson resumed freelancing and also co-led a big band with Kenny Dorham. His arrangements for the band went unrecorded until the release of Joe Henderson Big Band (Verve) in 1996.

Blue Note

From 1963 to 1968, Joe appeared on nearly thirty albums for Blue Note, including five released under his name. The recordings ranged from relatively conservative hard-bop sessions (Page One, 1963) to more explorative sessions (Inner Urge and Mode for Joe, 1966). He played a prominent role in many landmark albums under other leaders for the label, including most of Horace Silver's swinging and soulful Song for My Father, Herbie Hancock's dark and densely orchestrated The Prisoner, Lee Morgan's hit album The Sidewinder and "out" albums with pianist Andrew Hill (Black Fire 1963 and Point of Departure, 1964) and drummer Pete La Roca (Basra, 1965).

In 1967, there was a notable, but brief, association with Miles Davis's quintet featuring Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, although the band was never recorded. Henderson's adaptability and eclecticism would become even more apparent in the years to follow.


Signing with Orrin Keepnews's fledgling Milestone label in 1967 marked a new phase in Henderson’s career. He co-led the Jazz Communicators with Freddie Hubbard from 1967-1968. Henderson was also featured on Hancock's Fat Albert Rotunda for Warner Bros. It was during this time that Henderson began to experiment with jazz-funk fusion, studio overdubbing, and other electronic effects. Song and album titles like Power to the People, In Pursuit of Blackness, and Black Narcissus reflected his growing political awareness and social consciousness, although the last album was named after the Powell and Pressburger film of 1947.

After a brief association with Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1971, Henderson moved to San Francisco and added teaching to his résumé.

Later career and death

Though he occasionally worked with Echoes of an Era, the Griffith Park Band and Chick Corea, Henderson remained primarily a leader throughout the 1980s. An accomplished and prolific composer, he began to focus more on reinterpreting standards and his own earlier compositions. Blue Note attempted to position the artist at the forefront of a resurgent jazz scene in 1986 with the release of the two-volume State of the Tenor recorded at the Village Vanguard in New York City. The albums (with Ron Carter on bass and Al Foster on drums) revisited the tenor trio form used by Sonny Rollins in 1957 on his own live Vanguard albums for the same label. Henderson established his basic repertoire for the next seven or eight years, with Monk's "Ask Me Now" becoming a signature ballad feature.

It was only after the release of An Evening with Joe Henderson, a live trio set (featuring Charlie Haden and Al Foster) for the Italian independent label Red Records that Henderson underwent a major career change: Verve took notice of him and in the early 1990s signed him. That label adopted a 'songbook' approach to recording him, coupling it with a considerable marketing and publicity campaign, which more successfully positioned Henderson at the forefront of the contemporary jazz scene. His 1992 'comeback' album Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn was a commercial and critical success and followed by tribute albums to Miles Davis, Antonio Carlos Jobim and a rendition of the George Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess.

On June 30, 2001, Joe Henderson died due to heart failure after a long battle with emphysema.[3]


As leader

Blue Note Records:

1963: Page One
1963: Our Thing
1964: In 'n Out
1964: Inner Urge
1966: Mode for Joe
1985: The State of the Tenor: Live at the Village Vanguard, Vols. 1 & 2
Milestone Records
1967: The Kicker
1968: Tetragon
1969: Power to the People
1970: If You're Not Part of the Solution, You're Part of the Problem
1971: In Pursuit of Blackness
1971: Joe Henderson in Japan
1972: Black Is the Color
1973: Multiple
1974: The Elements
1975: Canyon Lady
1976: Black Miracle
1976: Black Narcissus
Verve Records
1968: Four
1968: Straight, No Chaser
1992: Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn
1992: So Near, So Far (Musings for Miles)
1994: Double Rainbow: The Music of Antonio Carlos Jobim
1996: Big Band
1997: Porgy & Bess
Red Records
1987: Evening with Joe Henderson - with Charlie Haden, Al Foster
1991: The Standard Joe - with Rufus Reid, Al Foster
2009: More from an Evening with Joe Henderson
Jazz Door
1973: 6tet/4tet - with Kenny Barron, Cedar Walton
1994: Live - with Bheki Mseleku, George Mraz, Al Foster
2001: Sunrise in Tokyo: Live in 1971 - with Terumasa Hino, Masabumi Kikuchi
Other labels
1977: Barcelona (Enja) - with Wayne Darling, Ed Soph
1979: Relaxin' at Camarillo (Contemporary) - with Chick Corea, either Tony Dumas or Richard Davis on bass, Peter Erskine or Tony Williams drums
1980: Mirror, Mirror (Pausa) - with Chick Corea, Ron Carter, Billy Higgins
1999: Warm Valley (West Wind) - with Tony Martucci, Tommy Cecil, Louis Scherr

As sideman

Year indicates (latest) recording date; releases were usually in the same year or at least the following, otherwise noted. Albums without available recording dates are placed at the end of presumed year of recording.[4]

1963: Kenny Dorham - Una Mas (Blue Note)
1963: Grant Green - Am I Blue (Blue Note)
1963: Antonio Diaz "Chocolaté" Mena - Eso Es Latin Jazz...Man!
1963: Johnny Coles - Little Johnny C (Blue Note)
1963: Blue Mitchell - Step Lightly (Blue Note, released 1980)
1963: Grant Green- Idle Moments (Blue Note)
1963: Andrew Hill - Black Fire (Blue Note)
1963: Lee Morgan - The Sidewinder (Blue Note)
1963: Bobby Hutcherson - The Kicker (Blue Note, released 1999)
1964: Freddie Roach - Brown Sugar (Blue Note)
1964: Andrew Hill - Point of Departure (Blue Note)
1964: Grant Green- Solid (Blue Note, released 1979)
1964: Kenny Dorham - Trompeta Toccata (Blue Note)
1964: Horace Silver - Song for My Father (Blue Note)
1964: Duke Pearson - Wahoo! (Blue Note)
1965: Freddie Hubbard - Blue Spirits (Blue Note)
1965: Andrew Hill - Pax (Blue Note, released in part 1975, as a whole 2006)
1965: Pete La Roca - Basra (Blue Note)
1965: Horace Silver - The Cape Verdean Blues (Blue Note)
1965: Larry Young - Unity (Blue Note)
1965: Woody Shaw - In the Beginning (Muse, 1983, expanded release in 1989 as Cassandranite)
1966: Nat Adderley - Sayin' Somethin' (Atlantic)
1966: Joe Zawinul - Money in the Pocket (Atlantic)
1966: Bobby Hutcherson - Stick-Up! (Blue Note)
1966: Nat Adderley - Live at Memory Lane (Atlantic)
1966: Herbie Hancock - Blow-Up (soundtrack) (MGM)
1966: Duke Pearson - Sweet Honey Bee (Blue Note)
1966: Roy Ayers - Virgo Vibes (Atlantic)
1967: McCoy Tyner - The Real McCoy (Blue Note)
1968: Nat Adderley - The Scavenger (Milestone)
1969: Herbie Hancock - The Prisoner (Blue Note)
1969: George Benson - Tell It Like It Is (A&M/CTI)
1969: Miroslav Vitouš - Mountain in the Clouds (Atlantic, released 1972)
1969: Herbie Hancock - Fat Albert Rotunda (Warner)
1970: Alice Coltrane - Ptah, the El Daoud (Impulse!)
1970: Freddie Hubbard - Red Clay (CTI)
1970: Freddie Hubbard - Straight Life (CTI)
1971: Blue Mitchell - Vital Blue (Mainstream)
1971: Luis Gasca - For Those Who Chant (Blue Thumb)
1971: Bill Cosby - Bill Cosby Presents Badfoot Brown and the Bunions Bradford Funeral Marching Band (Uni)
1972: Bill Evans / George Russell Orchestra - Living Time (Columbia)
1973: David Amram - Subway Night (RCA Victor)
1973: Babatunde Olatunji - Soul Makossa (Paramount)
1973: Ron Carter - All Blues (CTI)
1973: Johnny Hammond - Higher Ground (Kudu)
1973: Flora Purim - Butterfly Dreams (Milestone)
1973: Charles Earland - Leaving This Planet (Prestige)
1974: Luis Gasca - Born to Love You (Fantasy)
1974: Patrice Rushen - Prelusion (Prestige)
1975: Kenny Burrell - Ellington Is Forever, Ellington Is Forever Volume Two (Fantasy)
1976: Coke Escovedo - Comin' at Ya! (Mercury)
1976: Roy Ayers - Daddy Bug & Friends (Atlantic)
1976: Rick Laird - Soft Focus (Timeless Muse)
1977: Flora Purim - Encounter (Milestone)
1977: Richard Davis - Way Out West, Fancy Free
1977: Woody Shaw - Rosewood (Columbia)
1978: Freddie Hubbard - Super Blue (Columbia)
1979: Roy Haynes - Vistalite (Galaxy)
1979: Jerry Rusch - Rush Hour (Jeru/Inner City)
1979: Ron Carter - Parade (Milestone)
1979: Art Farmer - Yama (CTI)
1979: J. J. Johnson - Pinnacles (Milestone)
1980: George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band - Live at the "Quartier Latin" Berlin (MPS)
1980: Joanne Brackeen - Ancient Dynasty (Tappan Zee)
1980: James Leary - Legacy (Blue Collar)
1980: (All-Star Band) - Aurex Jazz Festival: Jazz of the 80's (Eastworld)
1981: Chick Corea - Live in Montreux (Stretch, released 1994)
1981: Freddie Hubbard - A Little Night Music (Fantasy, released 1983)
1981: Lenny White - Echoes of an Era (Elektra Musician)
1981: Stanley Clarke, Chick Corea, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Lenny White - The Griffith Park Collection (Elektra Musician)
1982: Mal Waldron - One Entrance, Many Exits (Palo Alto)
1982: Lenny White - The Griffith Park Collection 2: In Concert (Elektra Musician)
1982: Lenny White - Echoes of an Era 2: The Concert (Elektra Musician)
1983: Dave Friesen - Amber Skies (Palo Alto)
1986: Randy Brecker - In the Idiom (Denon)
1986: The Paris Reunion Band - For Klook (Gazell)
1987: Wynton Marsalis - Thick in the South: Soul Gestures in Southern Blue, Vol. 1 (Columbia, released 1991)
1987: Neil Swainson - 49th Parallel (Concord)
1987: Akio Sasajima - Akio with Joe Henderson (Muse)
1987: George Gruntz Concert Band '87 - Happening Now! (HatART)
1987: The Paris Reunion Band - Hot Licks (Sonet)
1988: Frank Morgan - Reflections (Contemporary)
1988: Arnett Cobb, Jimmy Heath, Joe Henderson - Tenor Tribute (Soul Note)
1988: The Paris Reunion Band - Jazzbühne Berlin '88 (Amiga)
1988: Mulgrew Miller - The Countdown (Landmark)
1988: Akio Sasajima - Humpty Dumpty (BRC Jam)
1988: Jon Ballantyne - Sky Dance (Justin Time)
1989: Charlie Haden / Joe Henderson / Al Foster - The Montreal Tapes: Tribute to Joe Henderson (Verve, released 2004)
1989: Donald Byrd - Getting Down to Business (Landmark)
1990: Renee Rosnes - For the Moment (Blue Note)
1990: Ernie Wilkins - Kaleido Duke (Birdology)
1990: Kevin Hays - El matador (Evidence)
1990: Bruce Hornsby - A Night on the Town (BMG, Henderson on two tracks)
1991: Donald Byrd - A City Called Heaven (Landmark)
1991: Rebecca Coupe Franks - Suite of Armor (Justice)
1991: McCoy Tyner - New York Reunion (Chesky)
1991: Donald Brown - Cause and Effect (Muse)
1991: Valery Ponomarev - Profile (Reservoir)
1991: Walter Norris - Sunburst (Concord)
1991: Todd Coolman - Lexicon (Double-Time)
1991: James Williams - James Williams Meets the Saxophone Masters (DIW/Columbia)
1991: Joe Gilman - Treasure Chest (Timeless)
1991: Rickie Lee Jones - Pop Pop (Geffen, Henderson on two tracks)
1992: Kenny Garrett - Black Hope (Warner Bros.)
1992: [Bruce Forman {guitar}] - "Forman on the Job" (Kamei Records7004CD), Henderson on four tracks
1992: Mulgrew Miller - Hand in Hand (Novus)
1993: Bheki Mseleku - Timelessness (Verve, Henderson on one track)
1994: Kitty Margolis - Evolution
1994: Roy Hargrove - With the Tenors of Our Time (Verve, Henderson on two tracks)
1995: Shirley Horn - The Main Ingredient (Verve, Henderson on two tracks)
1998: Terence Blanchard - Jazz in Film (Sony)


^ Jump up to: a b c d e Original liner notes to Page One by Kenny Dorham
Jump up ^ Mel Martin Interview with Joe Henderson published in The Saxophone Journal, March/April 1991. Retrieved on 24 April 2007.
Jump up ^ Scott Yanow, Allmusic Biography Retrieved on 25 June 2009.
Jump up ^ Cf. Joe Henderson Discography & Chronology at Jazz Discography. Retrieved 25 November 2012
External links[edit]
The Joe Henderson Discography Shut down as of 25 November 2012
Joe Henderson Discography & Chronology. Retrieved on 25 November 2012
Twelve Essential Joe Henderson Tracks by S. Victor Aaron (
Joe Henderson "Lush Life" solo: Transcription and analysis