Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Grand Opening of the Joe Henderson Lab

The 1st Annual SFJAZZ Hotplate Festival takes place this week, kicking off the Grand Opening of SFJAZZ Center's Joe Henderson Lab, which is a 100-plus person open performance space. The festival, which begins on Valentine's Day this Thursday and runs through Sunday, features a different tribute each night. The opening show has saxophonist Mitch Marcus paying tribute to the room's namesake as he plays the music of legendary San Francisco jazz icon Joe Henderson, while the rest of the week includes drummer Josh Jones' salute to Ray Barretto, Tiffany Austin singing the music of Ella Fitzgerald, and a homage to Freddie Hubbard by trumpeter Mike Olmos. Before and in-between each of the evenings three sets, I will be deejaying a choice selection of jazz cuts that fit the theme of that show's tribute artist. It should be a great festival that helps showcase both jazz greats and many notable local Bay Area jazz musicians.

This week, on this site, I thought I would do my part and pay tribute to the artist that the room helps celebrate, Joe Henderson. Easily one of the greatest tenor saxophonist in jazz history and a personal favorite of mine, Henderson was a true force during the sixties' and seventies' post-bop era. As a leader he recorded a number of groundbreaking albums including Inner Urge (1965), Mode For Joe (1966), Power To The People (1969), Black Is The Color (1972) and Multiple (1973), while being featured as a sideman on many other classic recordings like Andrew Hill's Black Fire (1964), Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder (1964), McCoy Tyner's The Real McCoy (1967), Alice Coltrane's Ptah, The El Daoud (1970), Freddie Hubbard's Red Clay (1970) and many others. With the legendary saxophonist spending a major portion of his life living in San Francisco, while performing with SFJAZZ a number of times, it's absolutely fitting that this performance space is named after the late jazz great.

Here is the cosmic jazz classic "Las Palmas" off of Joe Henderson's 1975 album Canyon Lady. Just one of the many gems the saxophonist recorded for Milestone Records.

Joe Henderson - Las Palmas

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