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Discussion Starter #1
Does anyone know about Joe Hendrson as a teacher?
In the few biographical articles that I have read about him they will mention that when Henderson moved to San Francisco he then added teaching to what he did. None of what I have read offers any details other than to say that in S.F. he took up teaching. Does anyone know any details? Did he join a faculty? Was he giving private lessons? I am guessing that he must have been a fantastic source of knowledge and inspiration to anyone fortunate enough to have spent time with him.

Thank you
 

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I grew up in the Bay Area and have known quite a few guys that studied privately with him. Some had better experiences than others. One thing Joe was big on was having students learn things by ear and have to remember them from one lesson to the next (no writing things down). For one person it was Joe sitting at the piano teaching the student his solo on Blue Bossa by ear, for another person it might be an etude Joe composed on the spot for the student and then taught them by ear. The crazy part is that the student would come back the next week for another lesson and Joe would still remember the etude from the week before. He was huge on developing your musical memory, which is a very underrated skill IMO.

I knew one guy that took a lesson with him and apparently wasn’t a very good student. During his lesson Joe had him drive him to a sandwich shop. He told the student to wait in the car, and then ordered food and ate it in the restaurant while the student waited outside in the car...... they drove back to Joe’s house after he finished his food and that was the end of the lesson!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I knew one guy that took a lesson with him and apparently wasn’t a very good student. During his lesson Joe had him drive him to a sandwich shop. He told the student to wait in the car, and then ordered food and ate it in the restaurant while the student waited outside in the car...... they drove back to Joe’s house after he finished his food and that was the end of the lesson!
Ouch. That’s cold. I never would have guessed that he would have humiliation in his pedagogical toolbox.
Great story.
 

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Joe taught a Sax Master Class at the Stanford Jazz Workshop in 1988, and I was fortunate to be able to attend that year. He kept the entire group engaged with his banter and demonstrable skills to reinforce his points.
 

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I’ve always believed the story because of the credibility of the person who told me .... I think Joe was super old school and was trying to make a point, something like “if you’re gonna waste my time by not taking this seriously I’m going to waste your time too”.

I’ve talked to others who had amazing experiences studying with him and consider their time studying with him as a real turning point in their development..... going back to the solos he would make up for students and have them learn by ear, my understanding is that each solo was personalized for the student depending on what they needed to address most in their playing.

Btw- apparently Mike Brecker had a long-standing beef with Joe going back to something that happened when he was taking a lesson from Joe. I heard somebody try to press Brecker for details once in a clinic but Brecker didn’t want to talk about it. Would love to have been a fly on the wall for that lesson!
 

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I was in his combo twice at Aebersold clinics. I had really just started playing and he emphasized learning tunes. The best part was hearing him play with us and at night with Woody Shaw.
He was always nice with us. He took a fantastic drummer friend of mine from here with him on the road who he met at the camps.
I remember when he was playing with us and you could hear his horn clicking and clacking. Being a novice, I asked him if he got it repaired and he said to me, “it makes it sound like I’m playing fast.” He had a good sense of humor.
A true genius.
 

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Btw- apparently Mike Brecker had a long-standing beef with Joe going back to something that happened when he was taking a lesson from Joe. I heard somebody try to press Brecker for details once in a clinic but Brecker didn’t want to talk about it. Would love to have been a fly on the wall for that lesson!
Me, too. I don't think I've ever heard of Brecker having a beef with anyone--he certainly had a reputation as one of the nicest great musicians you'd ever meet. So it does make me wonder ...
 

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Greg Fishman studied with Joe Henderson, among many other people. I don't know for how long. I remember Greg talking about Joe being big on not writing stuff down during lessons. I think Greg said the notion was to learn the material immediately, not write it down to learn it later.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you for posting these great stories and links. Musical memory is an interesting concept, that it can be developed and strengthend. I have been listening to a lot of JH lately. Pound-for-pound, he is one of the best. So solid and inventive in so any ways.
 

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Thank you for posting these great stories and links. Musical memory is an interesting concept, that it can be developed and stregnthed. I have been listening to a lot of JH lately. Pound-for-pound, he is one of the best. So solid and inventive in so any ways.
+1

So true ...... of course he weighed about 90 pounds😜
 

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Just an anecdote about Joe Henderson. In the 1970's there was a jazz workshop held at Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah. Henry Wolking was the director of the workshop and he invited Joe Henderson as guest soloist and to give some clinics on improv. After the first rehearsal Joe was visibly upset and said his horn just wasn't playing right. Since the concert was that evening a college student was assigned to take the tenor down to Salt Lake and have it checked by the best repair tech in town. The student came back a few hours later and said the tech could find nothing wrong, in fact his horn was in perfect adjustment. He said, "what are we going to tell Joe?" None of us knew what to say. It turned out that Joe was used to how his reeds played at sea level, and the resort at Snowbird was 7,700 feet in elevation. Apparently Joe found some reeds that worked because he played beautifully at the concert.
 
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