Personalities | Fletcher Henderson | Twenties | Jazz & Blues
(Piano, arranger, bandleader, 1897–1952)
The Georgia native came to New York in 1920 and worked at a music publishing company owned by Harry Pace and W.C. Handy. When Pace left in 1921 to form the Black Swan record label, Henderson followed as house pianist and arranger. In 1923 Henderson’s session band, which included young talents such as Coleman Hawkins, landed a steady gig at the Club Alabam, and in 1924 began an engagement at the Roseland Ballroom; Louis Armstrong joined the same year.
From 1925–28, Henderson’s swinging ensemble was among the finest in jazz, but the Depression took its toll and by 1935 Henderson was writing crack arrangements for the Benny Goodman Orchestra that essentially helped to launch the swing era. Henderson led his own small groups during the 1940s and in 1950 co-led a sextet with Lucky Thompson before being sidelined by a stroke.
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