Joe Hayman

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With a surname sounding like a greeting among hipsters, Joe Hayman must have discovered the secret to living a long and healthy life. He celebrated his 100th birthday in the year 2003, but the anti-musician…
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With a surname sounding like a greeting among hipsters, Joe Hayman must have discovered the secret to living a long and healthy life. He celebrated his 100th birthday in the year 2003, but the anti-musician lifestyle crowd might suggest that the secret was giving up performing, since Hayman was employed as a pharmacist since the mid '40s, his horns apparently collecting dust somewhere. He is not the most famous saxophonist from Little Rock--that would have to be Pharoah Sanders. But Hayman contributed solidlly to several groups led by superb pianist Claude Hopkins as well as working with singer Josephine Baker and in a big band assembled by Louis Armstrong.

His professional career began in the early '20s. While coming up with bandleader, pianist and composer Alex Hill certainly must have been a stimulating challenge, the thought of another set of gigs during this period with a group led by Eugene Crook could induce shudders--surely there is no more suspicious-sounding a name in the history of jazz. Hayman revealed his penchant for a neglected first name, at least in the United States, by working somewhat later with a player named Eugene Kennedy.

It was with the aforementioned Hopkins that things really got rolling, however, including a European tour in 1925. Part of this revue included providing back-up for Baker's vocal pyrotechnics.

Upon returning to New York City in the following year, the reedman continued his association with Hopkins as well as beginning one with Wilbur De Paris. In the late '20s it was back to Europe with the Blackbirds revue. While Hayman did show his face and tote his horns in America in the early '30s, he continued to find opportunities in Europe, working with Willie Lewis for the extended period comprising 1934 through 1938. Trumpeter Bill Coleman became one of his collaborators and an excellent match in horn sections. Hayman's enlistment in the Harlem Rhythm Makers took his travels well outside the norm of jazzmen, then and now, as the group undertook an Egyptian tour. Armstrong and again Hopkins utilized his talents in the early '40s, before he turned to dispensing medicine rather than riffs.