Though renowned tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson may not be around anymore, his music is still alive and well thanks to the UT Jazz Big Band Ensemble.
The Jazz Big Band Ensemble performed their Spring Concert on Monday night at the Alumni Memorial Building. Entitled "The Music of Joe Henderson," the entire evening was dedicated to one of jazz's most influential players.
Henderson left a legacy that spanned more than four decades, giving the Big Band Ensemble a tough act to do him justice, but they performed an hour-and-a-half of music either written or arranged by Henderson himself.
Henderson's career as a jazz saxophonist and composer left a lasting impression on the world of jazz with his name becoming synonymous with power and grace on tenor sax. Playing a selection of music from his career was a challenge, but the group stepped up to the plate and performed a set that gave homage to Henderson's genius.
Special guest Gregory Tardy, assistant professor of jazz saxophone, joined the ensemble for the last two songs of the night. Program Director Keith Brown, senior lecturer in percussion, said that he would pick Tardy over any other tenor sax player he knew because of his likeliness to Henderson as well as his stylistic approach to his music.
"It was nice just listening to him," Hunter Smith, alto saxophone player and freshman in jazz studies, said. "We could have not even played and it would have been fine."
Though Tardy may have been the star of the final two songs of the concert, there was no malicious upstaging between other members in the ensemble throughout the night. One of the most difficult parts about jazz music is how the instruments play off each other.
David Webb, sophomore studying jazz guitar, was impressed with the performance of Jake Smith, the ensemble's guitarist.
"He outlined the changes well," Webb said. "He knew where he was at and had a very smooth sound."
As with most jazz performances, solos were embedded into the songs.
"We weren't together for everything, but we were swinging," Hunter Smith recalled after the performance. "The solos were good, mine was all right. A little out of tune."
The final concert of the Jazz Big Band Ensemble with the music of Joe Henderson closed out the year for the group.