An unsung player, Haywood Henry was one of the finest baritone saxophonists of the swing era; so good, in fact, that he occasionally substituted for Harry Carney with Duke Ellington's Orchestra. Henry started on clarinet (which he continued using as a double throughout his career) and tenor before focusing on the baritone. He played with the 'Bama Street Collegians in 1930 when he was attending Alabama State Teachers College, freelanced a bit, and then officially joined the group in 1934 after coming to New York; they would soon be known as the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra. Henry was a fixture with Hawkins from 1934 into the early '50s, taking occasional solos. In his post-Hawkins years, he played with Tiny Grimes, recorded with Julian Dash (1951), was with the Fletcher Henderson Reunion Band of 1957-1958, and was busy recording over 1000 rock & roll records over a ten-year period (often with Mickey Baker), appearing anonymously on many hit records. Henry also worked with Wilbur DeParis in the early '60s and later gigged with Max Kaminsky, Snub Mosley, Louis Metcalf, Earl Hines (1969-1971), Broadway shows (including Ain't Misbehavin'). Sy Oliver's Orchestra (1972-1980), and the New York Jazz Repertory Company. Henry recorded with an Erskine Hawkins reunion group (1971) and was active into the late '80s. As a leader, Haywood Henry recorded an album apiece for Davis (1957), Strand (early '60s), and a definitive outing for Uptown (1983).
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