18 Facts About Fletcher Henderson


James Fletcher Hamilton Henderson was an American pianist, bandleader, arranger and composer, important in the development of big band jazz and swing music.

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Fletcher Henderson was one of the most prolific black musical arrangers and, along with Duke Ellington, is considered one of the most influential arrangers and bandleaders in jazz history.

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Fletcher Henderson helped bridge the gap between the Dixieland and the swing eras.

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Fletcher Henderson's home, now known as the Fletcher Henderson House, is a historic site.

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Fletcher Henderson pursued the studies with his mother and further engaged himself in lessons on European art.

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Fletcher Henderson attended Atlanta University and graduated in 1920 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and mathematics.

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Fletcher Henderson did get a part-time job as a lab assistant in a downtown Manhattan chemistry firm, but this only lasted a year.

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In New York City, Fletcher Henderson shared an apartment with a pianist who worked as a musician in a riverboat orchestra.

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When his roommate was too sick to perform, Fletcher Henderson took his place, which soon gave him a job as a full-time replacement.

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On October 13, 1924, history was made when Fletcher Henderson's band began their re-engagement at Roseland, with Armstrong now in the orchestra.

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Besides playing at the Roseland, Fletcher Henderson played at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, playing until 3:30 in the morning.

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Fletcher Henderson's said that John Hammond and Goodman bought Henderson's arrangements to support him, that Goodman always gave Henderson credit for the arrangements and said that he played them better than his own.

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The singer Helen Ward stated that Fletcher Henderson was delighted to hear the Goodman Orchestra realize his creations with such impeccable musicianship.

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In 1939, Fletcher Henderson disbanded his band and joined Goodman's, first as pianist and arranger and then working full-time as staff arranger.

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Fletcher Henderson suffered a stroke in 1950, resulting in partial paralysis that ended his career as a pianist.

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Fletcher Henderson died in New York City in 1952, 11 days after his 55th birthday.

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Fletcher Henderson played a key role in bringing improvisatory jazz styles from New Orleans and other areas of the country to New York, where they merged with a dance-band tradition that relied heavily on arrangements written out in musical notation.

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Louis Metcalf said: "The sight of Fletcher Henderson's men playing behind music stands brought on a learning-to-read-music kick in Harlem which hadn't cared before it.

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