Friday, January 6, 2017

GUEST POST: Joe Henderson Legacy Big Band coming to Empress

By Elizabeth Warnimont

Vallejo Drummer Bob Belanski of Bob Belanski’s SpecDrum will welcome trumpeter Warren Gale, Jr., trombonist Steve Turre and others to the Empress Theatre in Vallejo Saturday, Jan. 28 for a 19-piece Big Band concert in honor of the late tenor sax legend Joe Henderson. The Joe Henderson Legacy Big Band will perform jazz standards including those written by Henderson, along with original works by Belanski, Turre and others.
   Henderson was a successful tenor saxophonist and composer who recorded with Blue Note Records for more than 30 albums, including five released in his own name. Most recently, his 1992 comback album “Lush Life” was a commercial and critical success, followed by a tribute album to Miles Davis and a popular rendition of George Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” opera. Henderson died in 2001 after a long battle with emphysema.
   Warren Gale, Jr. played in Henderson’s band combos after meeting him in 1966. He joined the Buddy Rich Band in 1968 and played with numerous big name artists throughout the 1970s. Gale has been living and performing in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1971.
   Steve Turre is currently part of "Saturday Night Live's" house band, and was featured on the cover of Down Beat magazine last October. Turre has claimed the Number One spot on Down Beat’s Reader and Critic Polls a total of 24 times, according to concert organizer Belanski, both for Best Trombone and Best Miscellaneous Instrumentalist – Turre is by the way also a premiere seashellist.
   After a stint with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the early ‘70s, Turre was playing a variety of gigs when he was introduced to jazz instrumentalist Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Kirk showed Turre how to hum into the seashell as an instrument. Soon after that, Turre discovered that his ancestors had played the shells. Since then, Turre has incorporated a special, large painted shell into his core musical style.
   Belanski says he was fortunate to fine that Turre would be available to do the show in Vallejo. It happens that Turre will be visiting family in Moraga that week, and leading jazz clinics at Stanley Jr. High School in Lafayette and Campolindo High School in Moraga. Belanski is currently a drum instructor at Mozart, Einstein & Me in Benicia.
   The Joe Henderson Legacy Big Band will be at the Empress Saturday, Jan. 28 at 8 p.m. Advance tickets are $25, seniors $22,  $30 at the door. Tickets are available at the Empress website at or by calling the box office at 552-2400. The Empress is located at 330 Virginia St. The box office will open one hour before showtime, at 7 p.m.
   The concert is sponsored by Mozart, Einstein & Me of Benicia.

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