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Dr. Eddie Henderson: Uncommon Genius

Eddie Henderson is a renowned American jazz trumpeter and flugelhorn player. He was born on October 26, 1940, in New York City. His father was a singer with the Charioteers, and his mother was a dancer at the Cotton Club. Henderson was exposed to music as a child, and his parents had many famous friends, including Louie Armstrong. Eddie Henderson received his first trumpet lesson at nine from Louis Armstrong. When Eddie turned 14, his family relocated to San Francisco, where he studied at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music from 1954 to 1956. In 1957, Eddie met Miles Davis for the first time. Miles, a longtime family friend, admired the gorgeous tone of Henderson's trumpet playing. Davis encouraged Eddie to pursue a career in music.

Eddie's intellectual curiosity, need for exploration, and athleticism led him down many career paths. During his studies at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, Henderson attended a professional ice skating show and he became consumed with figure skating. "I had some athletic ability so I decided to take lessons," he explained in a January 1960 interview with The Associated Press. Eddie competed in both the Pacific Coast and Midwestern Ice Skating Championships in the late fifties and early sixties, he was undaunted by racism and the race barrier that existed in the skating world at the time. During the Vietnam War Henderson enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After serving his country, he relocated to Colorado and was permitted entrance in the Denver Figure Skating Club, and in 1960 he represented the club in the Midwestern Figure Skating Championships in Minneapolis. He won a bronze metal at the event. Eddie ended his skating career five years before the USFSA changed its by-laws to take a stand on racial prejudice within skating clubs.

In the 1960s began to pursue dual careers in medicine and music, earning a Bachelor of Science in zoology in 1964 at the University of California at Berkeley and an MD at Howard University Medical School four years later in 1968.

During the 1960s, Henderson began performing with jazz legends such as Herbie Hancock, Pharoah Sanders, and Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Throughout the 1970s, Henderson recorded several more albums as a bandleader and collaborated with other notable musicians such as McCoy Tyner and Benny Golson. He also recorded his first album, "Realization," in 1973, which featured Hancock, Sanders, and others.

Henderson's playing is characterized by his lyrical phrasing, inventive improvisations, and use of space and silence in his solos and his ability to blend traditional jazz styles with more contemporary elements, such as funk and soul.Eddie Henderson has performed with many notable jazz musicians throughout his career. In the 1960s, he played with various bands, including Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, Herbie Hancock, and Dexter Gordon. In the 1970s, Henderson released several albums as a bandleader and collaborated with other musicians on various projects. He played with the fusion band, "Mwandishi," led by Herbie Hancock, and recorded with pianist McCoy Tyner on the album "Sama Layuca." He also worked with saxophonist Benny Golson on the album "I'm Always Dancin' to the Music" and drummer Billy Hart on "Enchance." In the 1980s, Henderson continued to perform and record with a variety of musicians. He recorded with pianist Kenny Barron on "Scratch" in 1985 and played with trumpeter Freddie Hubbard on his "Life Flight" album in 1987. In addition to his collaborations with other musicians, Henderson has also released many albums as a bandleader. Some of his most well-known albums include "Heritage" (1976), "Sunburst" (1978), 
and "Phantoms" (1996).

At 82, Eddie Henderson continues to perform and record today, cementing his legacy as one of his generation's most versatile and talented jazz musicians.

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