John Handy

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John Handy
Handy in 1977
Handy in 1977
Background information
Birth nameJohn Richard Handy III
Born (1933-02-03) February 3, 1933 (age 90)
Dallas, Texas, U.S.
GenresJazz and Jazz fusion
Years active1953–present
LabelsRoulette, Columbia, Impulse!, Warner Bros., Milestone, American Music, Harbor, Koch, Boulevard

John Richard Handy III (born February 3, 1933)[1] is an American jazz musician most commonly associated with the alto saxophone. He also sings and plays the tenor and baritone saxophone, saxello, clarinet, and oboe.[2]


Handy was born in Dallas, Texas, United States.[1] He first came to prominence while working for Charles Mingus in the 1950s.[1] In the 1960s, Handy led several groups, among them a quintet with Michael White, violin, Jerry Hahn, guitar, Don Thompson, bass, and Terry Clarke, drums.[1] This group's performance at the 1965 Monterey Jazz Festival was recorded and released as an album;[1] Handy received Grammy nominations for "Spanish Lady" (jazz performance) and "If Only We Knew" (jazz composition). [3]

After completing high school at McClymonds High School in Oakland, he studied music at San Francisco State College, interrupted by service during the Korean War, graduating in 1958. Following graduation, he moved to New York City. Handy has taught music history and performance at San Francisco State University, Stanford University, the University of California, Berkeley, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.[4]

In the 1980s he worked in the project Bebop & Beyond, which recorded tribute albums to Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. His son, John Richard Handy IV, is a drummer who has played with Handy on occasion.

In 2009, he received the Beacon Award from SF JAZZ.[4]


As leader[edit]

As sideman[edit]

With Brass Fever

With Charles Mingus

With Mingus Dynasty


  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (1992). The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 188. ISBN 0-85112-580-8.
  2. ^ "John Handy | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  3. ^ "John Handy". Grammy Awards.
  4. ^ a b "Bay Area jazzman John Handy honored". The Mercury News. October 28, 2009.

External links[edit]