From the time he arrived in New York at age 23 in 1986, saxophonist Craig Handy was acknowledged as a musician with big, burly tenor sound, sharp wit, and above all, individuality. Over the next few years he would breath life into those accolades through a number of important associations: holding his own on the front line of legendary bebop drummer Roy Haynes’ band, working with South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, and weaving sensuous obbligati behind Betty Carter on the kind of tunes most young artist are presumed not to understand.
Handy cites each experience as having a profound impact on his development. “Working with Ibrahim taught me a lot about thematic development,” states the saxophonist. “He lays down simple melodies that build on each other, and listening to his compositions remind me of great architecture.”
...hard bop icon
—Scott Fugate, Jazz Times
[Dee Dee] Bridgewater... was clearly having a great time. That was fully evident by the end of You've Changed, which had featured her hot call-and-response session with brilliant saxophonist Craig Handy. Handy ended the song with a lick that left drummer Greg Hutchinson literally slack-jawed. And it got Bridgewater really fired up. She bowed toward Handy and began growling and howling like a dog....Handy...also played some stratospheric flute.
—Tad Dickens, Roanoke Times
...a harmonically daring soloist...
—Evan Haga, Jazz Times