Bill Henderson – R.I.P.

It was Bill Henderson who recorded Horace Silver’s “Senor Blues” for Blue Note Records in 1958. Bill also worked with Wynton Kelly, Yusef Lateef, Ramsey Lewis, and started to release several albums in the late 50s on Vee-Jay Records.

Bill Henderson "Somethings Gotta Give"In the 60s, Bill worked with Eddie Harris, Oscar Peterson, and Count Basie and after settling in Los Angeles, he worked as an actor in film and on TV. Often described as a mix between Ray Charles and Johnny Hartman, Bill’s unique style of meshing swing tunes, blues and ballads never really took off and earned him the accolades that he clearly deserved.

In 1999, Charlie Haden recorded his album “The Art Of The Song” with his Quartet West and Chamber Orchestra. The two vocalists he asked to perform on the album were Shirley Horn and Bill Henderson. In the liner notes for the album, legendary impresario Orrin Keepnews said of Henderson, “I have finally decided that Henderson sounds like a cross between matinee idol and a pixie – with an off-kilter romanticism all his own.”

In fact, the four tracks he recorded for the album, “Why Did I Choose You”, “Ruth’s Waltz”, “You My Love”, and “Easy On The Heart”, are some of the most intriguing and charming vocal recordings ever. Bill Henderson passed away on April 3rd, shortly after his 90th birthday, surrounded by his family.

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