So as many of us struggle to find ourselves, we try to do many things in trying to plot our course through life. Some of us succeed, others of us, while we muddle through life, we never find our true calling, and while we have lived a comfortable life, we know that something is missing that true passion. What sometimes makes you feel even worse is when you find someone who excels at several things! One such person celebrates his birthday today! Imagine Louis Armstrong gives you your first few trumpet lesson at the age of nine. At sixteen, Miles Davis is a guest at your home during a Black Hawk Jazz Club gig is impressed with your ability to perform his famous “Sketches of Spain” without a fluff but encourages you to seek his own originality. At around twenty-two you become the first African-American to compete for the National figure skating Championship, and win the pacific and Midwestern titles!!.You then enroll at the University of California, Berkeley, graduating with a B.S. in Zoology, study medicine at Howard University in Washington D.C., graduate. Undertake your residency in psychiatry,and practice general medicine from 1975 to 1985 in San Francisco, part-time for about four hours a day working at a small clinic, all because what you really wanted to do was play music!! And when you do get a chance to play music, you excel in that too. and go on to become one of today’s top and most original jazz trumpet players. Boy am I green with envy of the life of Eddie Henderson!! After the skating championships and getting his medical degree here’s how Henderson’s music career started (according to Wikipedia)…..
It was a week-long gig with Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi band that led to a three-year job, lasting from 1970-73. In addition to the three albums recorded by the group under Hancock’s name, Henderson recorded his first two albums, Realization (1972) and Inside Out (1973), with Hancock and the Mwandishi group. After leaving Hancock, the trumpeter worked extensively with Pharoah Sanders, Mike Nock, Norman Connors, and Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, returning to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1975 where he joined the Latin-jazz group Azteca, and fronted his own bands. He also recorded with Charles Earland (popular for his version of “Let the Music Play” in 1978), and later, in the 1970s, led a rock-oriented group. While he gained some recognition for his work with the Herbie Hancock Sextet (1970–1973), his own records were considered too “commercial”.
Continuing on his career path…..
In the 1990s, he returned to playing acoustic hard bop, touring with Billy Harper in 1991 while also working as a physician. In recent years Henderson has played at festivals in France and Austria. In May 2002, Henderson recorded an album of Miles Davis compositions, called So What?. The group included Bob Berg on sax, Dave Kikoski on piano, Ed Howard on bass and Victor Lewis on drums. Henderson’s fusion period has also been revisited in a live setting in the last few years, having played the UK and Europe to positive reviews, most notably his two night stint at the Jazz Café in London being cited by Blues & Soul Magazine as one of the concerts of the year. His backing band for these concerts was a UK band called Mr. Gone. The musicians in the band, at various points, included Simon Bramley on electric bass, Phil Nelson on drums, Tommy Emmerton on guitar, Neil Burditt on keyboards, Robin Jones on percussion and Jamie Harris on saxophone. Recent recordings by Henderson have included Oasis (2001 on Sirocco Jazz Limited label), So What?, a tribute to Miles Davis (2002, EPC, Sony, Columbia), Time and Spaces (2004 Sirocco Jazz Limited), Manhattan Blue (2005, unreleased), Precious Moment (2006 on the Kind of Blue label) and For All We Know (2010 Furthermore Recordings).
So while he has been a professional musician, he has also been working as a physician AND is a faculty member of Julliard music school!!! Some people – I just don’t know!! Anyway today I say “Happy 73rd Birthday, Mr Henderson! I am in awe of your musicianship and your life in general!!! Bravo!
Sources and Links
Wikipedia – Eddie Henderson
Here’s Eddie and his band playing “To Wisdom the Prize”