The Fletcher and Horace Henderson Collection contains original scores and band books, loose sheet music, both original and published, from both Fletcher and Horace's libraries, playlists, lyrics, photographs, personal papers and correspondences, newspaper clippings, jazz publications, an oral history manuscript of an interview with Horace, audio tapes, and other personal memorabilia documenting the lives and careers of the two brothers as pianists, band leaders, and arrangers. The majority of the material dates from the mid 1920s to the early 1980s.
Series 1: Fletcher and Horace Henderson's Music ca. 1930s - 1980s Boxes 1-68.
Original band books and scores, lyrics, playlists, loose music, and published music either arranged or used by Fletcher or Horace Henderson during their careers as pianists, band leaders, and arrangers. The series is organized into six subseries: Subseries 1A: Horace's Band Books, Subseries 1B: Loose Music, Subseries 1C: Original Scores, Subseries 1D: Lyrics, Suberies 1E: Playlists, and Suberies 1F: Published Music.
Suberies 1A, ca. 1940s -1980s, boxes 1-21. Horace Henderson Band Books. Each Band Book stands on its own, and is identified by the musician who used it or the location where the music was performed. Some performers include Gail Brochman, Eddie Calhoun, and George Reed. Many of the band books were used for performances at the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago.
Subseries 1B, ca. 1930s - 1980s, boxes 22-58. Music in boxes 22-54 comes from Horace Henderson's band library, and boxes 55-58 from Fletcher Henderson's band library. The music consists of full scores, piano scores, and parts arranged or used by Horace or Fletcher Henderson. Arranged alphabetically by title; FS - Full Score, PS - Piano Score, and P - Parts. * Indicates an overlap between loose music, and music known to have been performed at the Trianon Ballroom in Chicago. **Indicates an overlap between Horace and Fletcher's Libraries. The music is arranged alphabetically by music title.
Subseries 1C, ca. 1930s - 1940s, boxes 59-60. Original scores arranged by Fletcher Henderson, many for Benny Goodman and other bandleaders, including AHoneysuckle Rose@, AKing Porter's Stomp@, and AStealin' Apples@. There is also a complete band book written and arranged by Fletcher. Arranged alphabetically by title.
Subseries 1D, ca. 1940s - 1980s, box 61. Original lyrics used in performances by Horace Henderson's bands. Arranged alphabetically by title where identified.
Subseries 1E, ca. 1940s - 1980s, boxes 62-63. Playlists compiled in preparation for performances by Horace Henderson's orchestras, listing titles played at various performances. Un-arranged.
Subseries 1F, ca. 1920s-1980s, boxes 64-68. Published sheet music and books for piano/vocal parts. Includes art music, method books, popular music, fake books, and music book covers. Folders are arranged by type of publication, and the music is arranged alphabetically by title within each folder.
Series 2: Photographs, ca. 1920s - 1980s Boxes 69-70.
Photographs documenting the lives of both Fletcher and Horace Henderson's personal lives and careers. Photographs are arranged by category including Fletcher Henderson Candids with Friends, Horace Henderson Candids, Performance Marquees, and both brothers with their orchestra. Some unique pictures include portraits of Mr. and Mrs. Henderson (Fletcher and Horace's parents), candids of Fletcher with Benny Goodman, and Horace with Lena Horne.
Series 3: Personal Papers and Correspondences, ca. 1920s - 1980s Boxes 71-78. Programs and broadsides, newspaper articles, letters, essays, publications, and other personal documents tracing the lives of Horace and Fletcher, as well as some personal items of their parents. The series is divided into six subseries: Subseries 3A: Programs and Broadsides, Subseries 3B: Newspaper Articles and Clippings, Subseries 3C: Personal Papers and Correspondences, Subseries 3D: Miscellaneous Publishings, Subseries 3E: Transcript of an Oral History Interview, and Subseries 3F: Henderson Family Scrapbook.
Subseries 3A, ca 1930s - 1980s Boxes 71-72. Contains broadsides and ad clippings promoting both Horace and Fletcher's performances, along with programs for various jazz festivals. There are also three sets of Las Vegas Programs, advertising the weekly happenings during the years Horace was performing there, mainly at the Riviera Hotel and Casino (1959-1961). These include; Ken's Spotlight Las Vegas, Fabulous Las Vegas Magazine, On The Go, and other miscellaneous circulations. Arranged by category (Fletcher's broadsides, Horace's broadsides, Programs), and by date within each set of publications or programs.
Subseries 3B, ca. 1950s - 1980s, Boxes 73 & 78. Contains newspapers, articles, and clippings, ranging from 1951 to 1986, documenting the lives of Fletcher, Horace, and some of their contemporaries (ie: Duke Ellington) through the eyes of the media. Arranged by categories; reference to Fletcher, Horace, or Miscellaneous. Box 73 contains the oversized articles.
Subseries 3C, ca. 1920s-1980s, Box 74. Contains letters, contracts, and other personal documents of Fletcher, Horace, and their parents. Also contains a copied photo collection of Horace, a manuscript of AHorace Henderson Presents his Interpretation of Jazz@, and an essay (author unknown) about Fletcher's influence on jazz.
Subseries 3D, ca. 1960s - 1980s, Box 75. Contains miscellaneous publishings collected from the various locations Horace lived and worked. Includes weekly circulations from Denver and the surrounding area where Horace lived from the mid sixties until his death, along with various music magazines that he subscribed to (ADownbeat@, AInternational Musician@). Arranged by date within each category.
Subseries 3E, ca. 1975, box 76. Contains the original transcript of the Oral History Interview of Horace Henderson, for the Smithsonian Institution, performed by Tom MacCluskey on April 9-12, 1975.
Subseries 3F, box 77. Contains a Henderson Family Scrapbook which includes photographs of Fletcher's and Horace's father and mother, and various newspaper clippings commending the careers of Mr. Henderson, Horace, and Fletcher. The scrapbook's original order has been maintained.
Series 4: Audio Tape Recordings ca.1970s - 1980s Boxes 79-80.
Contains a collection of recordings of live performances of Horace's orchestra in various Denver area locations such as the Esquire Supper Club and the Petroleum Club. Also includes a sample tape, a brief Atest@ recording by Horace and Angel, a radio tribute to Horace, and a few miscellaneous mix tapes. The tapes are arranged by date when available. Box 79 contains the original copies, and box 80 contains the duplicates.
The collection is arranged into four series.
Series 1: Horace and Fletcher Henderson's Music
Series 2: Photographs
Series 3: Personal Papers
Series 4: Horace Henderson Audio Tapes
Biographical / Historical:
Fletcher Hamilton Henderson, Jr. (a.k.a. Smack) was born on December 18, 1897 in Cuthbert, Georgia. He was born into a middle class black family, and as a child studied European art music with his mother, a piano teacher. His sister later became the head of the music department at the Tuskeegee Institute in Alabama, and his younger brother, Horace, would eventually follow in his footsteps as a jazz musician, arranger, and band leader. Horace W. Henderson (a.k.a. Little Smack) was born on November 22, 1904. He also studied piano with his mother and sister, and like his brother, began formal music training as a teenager. Fletcher Henderson attended Atlanta University where he earned a degree in chemistry and math in 1919.
In 1920, Fletcher Henderson moved to New York City to find a job as a chemist. Because employment in this field was hard to come by, especially for African Americans, he began working as a song demonstrator for the Pace Hardy Music Company. Shortly after Fletcher Henderson's arrival Harry Pace founded Pace Phonograph Corporation to produce records on the Black Swan label in 1921. Fletcher joined Pace's music team and was responsible for contracting and leading a jazz bands to accompany the label's singers.
In 1924, Fletcher's orchestra, under the direction of Don Redman, began to perform at Club Alabam (sic) on New York City's Broadway Avenue. That same year he and the band was offered a job performing at the Roseland Ballroom, where the band remained for ten years and gained national fame. His band was no different than the hundreds of dance bands, springing up across the country in response to the growing demand for social dance music, such as Count Basie's Orchestra, King Oliver and his Dixie Syncopators, and McKinney's Cotton Pickers. Don Redman left the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra in 1927 to direct McKinney's Cotton Pickers. However the music collaboration of Redman and Henderson had by then established what would become the "standard" big band arrangement for several decades, specifically the dynamic interplay between the brass and reed sections of the orchestra that included interspersed solos made famous by such esteemed soloists of the band as Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. Some of the band's most notable recordings made between 1924 and 1925 include Copenhagen and Sugarfoot Stomp.
By this time Horace Henderson had formed his own college jazz band in 1924, The Wilberforce Collegians, after transferring from Atlanta University to Wilberforce University to pursue a music degree. His older brother sent him arrangements and piano parts used by the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra for performances by the Collegians. Later that year Horace Henderson left the university to travel and perform with his band in New York City. His newly formed band included such notable musicians as Benny Carter and Ben Webster. While in New York he also began playing as a guest musician in his brother's band and learning from such legends of jazz as Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey, Louis Armstrong, and Don Redman that were working for the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra. During a Smithsonian Institution sponsored oral history interview with Tom MacCluskey, Horace recalled late night jam sessions at Hawkins' (Hawk) apartment where they would play through pieces from "Fletch's" library and analyze each individual's performance. We would "stop and discuss what had transpired during that session, you know, that particular tune. And man, that was a lesson...It was a session that was actually to help everybody, so that they would try things out and take another tune, and use these particular little points that Hawk would tell 'em.'"
Until the 1930s, the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra was the principal model for big jazz bands. However, his management of the band and its finances led to frequent band break-ups. In 1934, severe financial problems forced Fletcher to sell some of his best arrangements to Benny Goodman. Horace Henderson and others suggested Goodman's rapid rise in popularity among swing bands for white audiences was largely due to Fletcher Henderson's innovative band arrangements. Fletcher Henderson continued to lead bands until 1939 when he joined Goodman's orchestra as a full time staff arranger. In 1941 he returned to band leading and arranging, but suffered a severe stroke in 1950. Fletcher was partially paralyzed from the stroke, and died on December 29, 1952.
Horace, also, formed many bands throughout the 1930s and 40s, and became a sideman for leaders such as Don Redman (1931-33) and, most notably, his brother. He was a pianist and arranger for Fletch's band intermittently between 1931 and 1947. During this time, Horace spent a lot of time in Chicago with Fletcher's band at the Grand Terrace, and formed his own band at Swingland. Horace also worked as a freelance arranger for Benny Goodman, Charlie Barnet, and Earl Hines3. From November 1942 through August 1943, Horace was the leader of the 732nd Military Police Band in Joliet, Illinois. The position was first offered to Louis Armstrong, who turned it down and recommended Horace for the position. After leaving the army, he played with Fletcher's band for two years. Horace began writing for Charlie Barnet in 1944, where he first came across Lena Horne. During a job at the Paramount, Charlie had Called Horace to say that his vocalist had laryngitis, and he needed a new singer. Horace went to the Apollo in Harlem in search of some talent, and they sent him to the Regent where he could find Lena Horne. She joined Charlie's show the next day, and from there went on to fame. Horace joined her for an extended tour as a pianist and arranger, and later worked with Billie Holiday3.
Horace moved to Denver with his wife, Angel, in the late 1960s. The Horace Henderson Combo performed at many nightclubs and resorts in the Denver area, including Estes Park, the Broadmoor Hotel, and the Petroleum Club. He began playing the organ in 1970 because the clubs didn't want to pay for four or five piece bands, and with an organ to replace the piano, a bass player was no longer necessary3. Horace continued to lead bands in the Denver area until his death on August 29, 1988.
Although both brothers had a major impact on the future of jazz, Horace is often thought of merely as a shadow to his more celebrated brother. Fletcher Henderson's career as a pianist, bandleader, and arranger is one of the most important in jazz history. Bands of leaders such as Count Basie, Charlie Barnet, Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, and Benny Goodman all played arrangements, which were either written or influenced by Fletcher Henderson. Fletcher constantly surrounded himself with the most talented musicians of his era, and patterned the basic formula, which were imitated throughout the big band era.
However, at least thirty of Fletcher's arrangements, many for Benny Goodman, are accredited as Horace's work. His arrangement Hot and Anxious was based on the traditional riff that later became the basis for Glenn Miller's In the Mood. Christopher Columbus is the most notable example of Horace's potent piano style, which is often noted to be stronger than his brother's. Although the brothers had differences, Horace insists that they did not involve music. Fletcher's style and success had a huge influence on Horace's career, and he was incredibly grateful for all his brother taught him. In an interview in April of 1975, he was quoted as saying, "I idolize his way of thinking because he was successful. You don't fight success, you join it." 3
1. Biographical information derived from The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, edited by Barry Kernfeld (New York: Macmillan Press Ltd, 1988).
2. The Pace Phonograph corporation was the first African-American-owned recording company in the United States. Historical information derived from The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Black Music; Biographical Dictionary of Afro-American and African Musicians, by Eileen Southern (USA: Greenwood Press, 1982).
3. Interview with Horace Henderson, April 2-12, 1975, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.
The Fletcher and Horace Henderson collection was acquired by the museum in December of 2001, donated by Barbara and Barry Lewis.
Collection is open for research.
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.