April 20–23: It's almost saxophonist Joe Henderson's birthday. He died here in San Francisco in 2001, but he would have been 80 years old on April 24. No one played with more grace and expression than Henderson. His solo version of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" from the album with the same title is both ornate and restrained, and nicely captures that song's quality of debonair despair.
SFJAZZ has always celebrated Henderson's importance to the Bay Area, naming its small front-of-the-house venue the Joe Henderson Lab. And this week a quartet of Bay Area saxophonists are offering fresh takes on four of Henderson's classic albums. Dayna Stephens opens the mini-fest with a recreation of Henderson’s Power to the People April 20, then Patrick Wolff does Our Thing April 21. The great Howard Wiley recreates Lush Life on April 22, and then Mad Duran leads a band in Henderson’s 1966 Blue Note session Inner Urge on Sunday, April 23. You can’t go wrong. More details here.