By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
SAN FRANCISCO -- Three-time Grammy winning tenor saxophonist Joe Henderson, long one of jazz insiders' best-kept secrets, died Saturday of heart failure following a long bout with emphysema. He was 64.
His heart just failed on him," said his sister, Phyllis Henderson, from Lima, Ohio, Saturday night.
Henderson stopped playing publicly more than a year ago due to his health problems.
Henderson's lyrical style, often said to be reminiscent of the legendary Stan Getz, brought him critical acclaim.
He was one of the most inventive saxophone players," said Sonny Buxton, a former jazz club owner in San Francisco who booked Henderson at Milestones in the mid-1980s.
You could hear roots coming out of Lester Young, Stan Getz," Buxton said. There was a wailing, a search in his playing. Within just a few notes you knew that it was Henderson."
Henderson played steadily throughout his career, recording albums and performing jazz concerts or low key jams with other jazz elite.
His Verve recordings, after signing with the label in 1992, paid homage to other jazz greats such as Billy Strayhorn on Lush Life," Miles Davis on So Near, So Far" and Antonio Carlos Jobim on Double Rainbow." Those recordings landed him three Grammys.
Those close to him nicknamed Henderson The Phantom for his ability to drop out of sight, seeking escape from the emotional demands of his art and profession.
Henderson was born in Lima, Ohio. He studied at Kentucky State College and Wayne State University before spending two years in the U.S. military.
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