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The Big Bands 17»
instruments. The rhythm section was typical of that period: piano, banjo, tuba and drums. Henderson played piano, but in later years occasionally ceded the chair to his brother Horace or to Fats Waller.
The band grew steadily in size, reputation and musicianship. By 1929 there were four saxophones, two trombones, and the modern rhythm section with guitar and string bass replacing banjo and tuba. Surviving members of the early Henderson band are unanimous in their insistence that its records give an inadequate idea of the excitement generated by the swing-conducive arrangements and the galaxy of soloists that passed through the ranks between 1922 and 1986. The three-minute time limitation on performances for the old 78 speed records, the psychological pressures of the recording studio and the happy-go-lucky morale of the men made the production of representative discs an impossibility. (John Hammond, who supervised some of the recording sessions around 1932, recalls that on one occasion a three-hour date was scheduled to start at 10 a.m.; by 11:30 there were five musicians present, and the bassist, John Kirby, wandered in at 12:40). Despite the consequent raggedness of ensemble and lack of dynamic cohesion, the records show some of the band's catalytic qualities.
The list of Henderson band alumni is astonishingly rich. Grouped approximately in chronological order of their incum-bence, the trumpeters were Louis Armstrong, Joe Smith, Bobby Stark, Rex Stewart, Red Allen, Joe Thomas, Roy Eldridge, Em-mett Berry. In the same order, the trombonists included Charlie Green, Jimmy Harrison, Dickie Wells, J. C. Higginbotham; the alto saxophonists Don Redman, Benny Carter, Edgar Sampson, Hilton Jefferson, Russell Procope; the tenors Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young (briefly), Ben Webster, Chu Berry; the clarinets Buster Bailey and Jerry Blake; the banjoists or guitarists Charlie Dixon, Clarence Holiday (Billie's father), Bernard Addison; the bassists Bob Escudero, June Cole, John Kirby, Israel Crosby; the drummers Kaiser Marshall, Walter Johnson, Sid Catlett
Henderson precariously held a hand together during the late 1930s, but his main identification was as arranger for Benny Goodman, whose band he joined as pianist for a few months in