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Eddie Henderson

Peter Madsen By

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Of course Dr. Eddie Henderson can heal the sick as a Doctor of Medicine and Psychiatry but his greatest gift of healing comes when he picks up his trumpet and plays like an angel or a devil depending on what kind of healing you need. I've known Eddie for over ten years playing together in various situations with people like bassist Mario Pavone, drummers Matt Wilson, Steve Johns or Sylivia Cuenca, and often with the Mingus Big Band. I love to play with Eddie as he always searches for hip ways of playing from the heart and soul. And Eddie definitely takes no prisoners. He has a beautiful sound on both trumpet and flugelhorn, has a great ear and his use of various kinds of mutes is sublime.

I've known of Eddie for a long time and I always thought of him as being from San Francisco. But Eddie told me recently that he was born in New York City and then moved to the Bay area when he was kid. He started playing trumpet there when he was 10 and began studying music theory when he was 14 at the San Francisco Conservatory. After serving in the air force for a couple of years he went on to study zoology and then medicine at Berkeley and Howard Universities. But it was at this time that he met Miles Davis who encouraged him to get more involved with playing jazz. During his summer breaks he often played with the great saxophonist John Handy and once with drummer Philly Joe Jones. Two years after graduating with his Doctorate in Medicine in 1968 he joined the Herbie Hancock Sextet (aka the Mwandishi Band). This early experimental fusion band made some fantastic music that played burning out funky grooves sometimes in unusual time signatures with lots of free playing, electronic colors and of course some great solos. Besides Eddie and Herbie the band included Bennie Maupin (reeds), Billy Hart (drums), Buster Williams (bass) and Julian Priester (trombone). What a band! Serious music!!

Eddie stayed with the Mwandishi band for three years and soon after got a contract with Capricorn Records for whom he recorded two fantastic fusion records with the exact same personnel as the Hancock group but without Julian Priester. The first was called Realisation and the second Inside Out. It was also in 1973 that Eddie joined Art Blakeys band for six months. Two years later Eddie continued in his fusion style with two records for Blue Note which were also very good and then two for Capital who didn't really have much of a jazz department at the time and tried to turn Eddie into some kind of pop/disco musician. Help! Beginning at the end of the 70's Eddie decided to spend more time at his other profession, as a general practitioner and psyschiatrist. He continued to play with great musicians like Joe Henderson (who had just moved to the Bay area) as well as Pharoah Sanders but he wasn't as visible as he was in the 70's.

Eddie came back on the scene when he moved to New York about twelve years ago and began to play with the bands of Kenny Barron, Gary Bartz and Billy Harper. His career as a leader also perked back up in 1994 when he started to record for Steeplechase and Milestone Records. It was at this time that he began focusing on his acoustic straight ahead modern trumpet style. Since his reemergence Eddie has recorded almost a dozen albums as a leader and a lot more as a sideman. He has now become one of the most sought after trumpeters in the world. If you want to hear how good Eddie is check out either Inspiration or Dark Shadows on Milestone Records or Dreams of Gershwin on Keystone. Or better yet go and see Eddie live. I'm sure you'll be amazed!


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