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Craig Handy

Born in Oakland, CA, as a music-hungry youngster, Craig Handy experimented on guitar, trombone, and piano before settling on his first true love, the saxophone. At the age of 11 while listening to the radio, Handy fell under the spell of the transcendent saxophone playing of jazz legend Dexter Gordon. Berkeley High School’s (CA) reputable Jazz Program soon beckoned, and Handy joined the ranks of graduating stellar saxophone talent including David Murray, Peter Apfelbaum, and Joshua Redman, to name a few. He attended North Texas State University and won the coveted Charlie Parker Scholarship which enabled his early college experience as a psychology major and frontrunner in the school’s exceptional One O’ Clock Jazz Ensemble.

His distinctive sound and authentic instrumental prowess were redoubtable traits immediately noticed by artists of stature, especially those committed to nurturing new talent on the bandstand and road. Handy moved to New York in 1986 and began several associations with formidable artists including master drummers Art Blakey and Roy Haynes, South African melodist Abdullah Ibrahim, and the Mingus Dynasty Band. During a Mingus Dynasty engagement, one audience member – none other than an impressed Bill Cosby – approached Handy and eventually invited him to be the featured soloist in his sitcom’s music theme for 1989-90’s “The Cosby Show”. This was followed by a contract to score, produce, and perform music slated for “The Cosby Mysteries” 1994-95 season.

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“...hard bop icon”

—Scott Fugate, Jazz Times

 

“[Dee Dee] Bridgewater... was clearly having a great time. That was fully evident by the end of “You've Changed,” which had featured her hot call-and-response session with brilliant saxophonist Craig Handy. Handy ended the song with a lick that left drummer Greg Hutchinson literally slack-jawed. And it got Bridgewater really fired up. She bowed toward Handy and began growling and howling like a dog....Handy...also played some stratospheric flute.”

—Tad Dickens, Roanoke Times

 

“...a harmonically daring soloist...”

—Evan Haga, Jazz Times

 

“Mr

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Photos

Albums

The Latin Side of...

Savant Records
2020

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Onward & Upward

Onyx Music Label
2020

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Sounds of Brasil

Point of Departure, WMPG-FM
2012

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Introducing Three For...

Arabesque Jazz
2009

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Split Second Timing

Arabesque Jazz
2009

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