Originally known as The Al Henderson Quartet, the band was formed in 1993 featuring Alex Dean (saxes, oboe, bass clarinet), pianist Richard Whiteman, bassist Al Henderson and drummer Barry Romberg. The band’s first recording – Dinosaur Dig (CRST CD103) was named one of the top three jazz recordings of 1995 by CBC Morningside. “…the same type of joyful freedom as the music of Mingus and Monk. This set from Canada is highly recommended. ” (AllMusic.com)
In 1998, the band became The Al Henderson Quintet with the addition of the internationally renowned saxophonist Pat LaBarbera (saxes, flute) to create the uniquely versatile and powerful front line featured on the recordings Urban Landscape (CRST CD108) and in 2004, Fathers and Sons (CRST CD124). Geoff Chapman described the band’s live performances as “…consistently stimulating…a healthy mix of drive and fascinating adventures…” (Toronto Star) while Richard Bourcier states about Fathers and Sons: “this session has it all.” (JazzReview.com)
Al’s fifth and most recent recording, Taiga (CRST 138), features his regular quintet with Alex Dean (saxes, bass clarinet), Pat LaBarbera (saxes, narration), pianist Richard Whiteman and drummer Barry Romberg. Baritone saxophonist David Mott appears as a guest artist on three tracks while noted cellists Matt Brubeck and Mark Chambers, first heard with the group on Regeneration (CRST CD132) which received a Juno nomination in 2010 for Traditional Jazz Album of the Year return for three others.
Al has performed as a sideman over the years with many jazz artists and is also the coleader of the influential group Time Warp, one of Canada’s longest running jazz ensembles with multiple Juno nominations and awards to their credit. The group has released nine recordings, played across Canada as well as in the US and Venezuela.
An Associate Professor of music at York University in Toronto, Al has served as Graduate Program Director (Interim), Jazz Area Coordinator and Director of the York University Jazz Orchestra and teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. As coowner of Cornerstone Records Inc. since 1993, the label has released thirty-eight jazz recordings with several more soon to be released.
Alex held the tenor saxophone chair with Rob McConnell’s Grammy award winning Boss Brass and, the Juno award winning Rob McConnell Tentet. He has collaborated extensively on C.D’s as side man with Canadian and American Jazz Artists. The Alex Dean Quartet/Quintet recordings include the newly released At this Point (November 2010), Dreamsville, Both Feet, and Kaitlyn’s Waltz. Kaitlyn’s Waltz was voted Best Jazz CD of 1994 by The Jazz Report and one of the Top Ten Jazz CD releases by New York’s Village Voice. He was also voted Jazz Musician of the Year by the Toronto Star.
The Alex Dean Quintet in the last couple of years is a relatively new group of highly regarded Canadian jazz artists assembled to record and play original music by Alex – Brian Dickenson, Lorne Lofsky, Kieran Overs and Ted Warren. The Quintet’s latest recording opened to standing room only crowds at Toronto’s Rex Jazz Club in November and will be playing/promoting their newest C.D. at various Jazz Festivals this summer including a feature date at The Toronto Jazz Festival.
He was the recipient of the 2000 Juno Award for his recording Deep in a Dream.
For over twenty years, Richard has performed at major Toronto jazz venues, and has also played with orchestras (The Canada Pops Orchestra) and big bands (including The Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra), in new music concerts (Hemispheres Music Projects), classical crossover groups (The Galaxy Trio) and musical theatre (“Forever Plaid”), and at countless “casual” engagements with Canada’s finest jazz musicians. He has also toured Canada with his trio and performed in Brazil, Egypt and San Antonio, Texas.
Some of the stellar musicians Richard has worked with are Don Thompson, Kenny Wheeler, Marcus Belgrave, Pat LaBarbera, Ken Peplowski, Nick Brignola, Ed Bickert, Jane Bunnett and Dutch Django-style star, Tim Kliphuis. As well as leading his own groups, Richard is a member of the The Al Henderson Quintet and is much in demand by vocalists, including John Alcorn, Jackie Richardson, Dee Daniels, Bonnie Brett and Heather Bambrick.
In addition to his busy club, corporate and touring schedule, Richard is also an educator, teaching jazz piano and leading ensembles at both Humber College and York University in Toronto.