(photo credit: Courtesy)
By definition, as a jazz artist you have to know how to improvise. In Eddie
Henderson’s case, that stretches beyond the boundaries of his chosen field of
Besides recording extensively and performing with some of the
legendary figures of jazz, the 70- year-old trumpeter, who will perform at the
Shablul club on June 2 and the Enav Center in Tel Aviv on June 4 (both 9 p.m.),
developed a nice “side interest” as a family doctor after studying medicine at
Harvard University. In fact, Henderson qualified as a psychiatrist but never put
that side of his professional skills into breadwinning
Henderson had the best possible start to his musical life,
catching a lesson with iconic trumpeter Louis Armstrong at the age of nine,
although he says he is not too sure that it left a lasting impression on him as
a person or on his later musical development.
“I was too young for it to
really register,” says Henderson.
However, another legendary trumpeter
had more of a palpable influence on his career path.
moved to San Francisco when he was 14 years old, and he studied at the San
Francisco Conservatory of Music from 1954 to 1956. In 1956, when Henderson was
16, Miles Davis stayed at his home during a Black Hawk Jazz Club gig –
Henderson’s stepfather was Davis’s doctor – and was impressed with the
teenager’s ability to perform Davis’s famous “Sketches of Spain” work
faultlessly, although he encouraged the youngster to carve out his own
expressive niche. “I got so many things from Miles,” reflects Henderson. “There
was his sound and style and an awareness of the importance of space.”
2001, some 10 years after Davis’s death, Henderson contributed to a tribute
album called So What – named after the opening track of Davis’s 1959 milestone
Kind of Blue album – and won rave reviews for his role.
One critic in
particular lauded Henderson’s playing, calling him “a fearless improviser, whose
sound can be either ethereal and enigmatic or exuberant and extroverted,
dominates the proceedings without overshadowing the other members of the
quintet’s considerable contributions.”
Henderson has directed his
artistry through quite a number of stylistic channels over the years, playing
bebop, avant-garde, Latin jazz and bluesy jazz with equal facility, and even
venturing into somewhat extra-mural territory with groove-driven funk fusion
escapades, such as his work with pianist Herbie Hancock on the 1971 release
Mwandishi. The latter project was, in fact, a turning point in Henderson’s
career as, prior to that, the trumpeter had devoted most of his time to his
medical work, and music had taken something of a back seat.
actually acknowledged that side of Henderson’s career, calling him Mganga, which
means “medicine man” in the language of the Bondei people of
While some may raise an eyebrow at Henderson’s eclectic
approach, the trumpeter says he doesn’t see any problems with leapfrogging genre
borders. “It’s really all just music to me, and I try to blend with whatever
context I’m authentically,” he states.
Besides the two concerts,
Henderson is coming here to record music written and arranged by Amit Golan, who
died last year at age 46. Golan taught jazz at the Thelma Yallin Arts School and
founded the jazz faculty at the Stricker Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv. In
the latter capacity, he was responsible for running a joint study program with
the New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in New York.
will be joined in the concerts and recording by New York-based pianists Jack
Glottman and Yonatan Ricklis, saxophonist Assaf Yuria and trombonist Yonatan
Volchuk, as well as local leading lights double bassist Gild Abro and drummer
Shai Zelman For tickets and more information about the concerts: Enav Center
(03) 605-0605 and Shablul (03) 546-1981.