Joe Henderson Vocabulary

by | Jazz Improvisation

I have found that when talking about influential saxophonists, especially among guitarists, Joe Henderson is not necessarily a household jazz name, as is the case with Charlie Parker and John Coltrane. Nonetheless, if you talk to any professional saxophonist today and ask him about the most influential players of all time on his instrument, you can be assured that the name Joe Henderson will come up among the top 5!

Did you know that during the same period when Coltrane was busy contributing to the development of post bop jazz, Henderson, was actually doing the same in his own corner? The difference is that Coltrane thanks to his association with Miles Davis, got the exposure that Henderson didn’t. But what many are not aware of is that Coltrane actually recommended that Miles hire Henderson to take his place when he left the band….. And Miles did! Unfortunately, after doing a few gigs with Miles, fate stepped in and Henderson was drafted into the army. That said, I am among the many who believe that if Henderson would have remained and recorded with Miles, he would have gotten much more recognition for his contribution to the development of the post bop idiom.

In this week’s lesson I am exploring several aspects of Joe Henderson’s unique vocabulary from a group of over 30 phrases I have transcribed. I am also going to show you how I incorporate them in my playing as well as tips on how to practice and recall them during a solo. So if you’re ready to add some cutting edge post-bop concepts to your jazz vocabulary, this stuff will keep you busy for a while!


The “Joe Henderson Vocabulary” lesson files, can be downloaded for $10.00. The download includes the following files:  PDFs with both regular notation and detailed TAB for 31 phrases, MP3s and Band in a Box files of all, as well as a Midi files so you can practice using the free downloadable notation app: “Muse Score”.

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