Born in Oakland, CA, as a music-hungry youngster, Craig Handy experimented on guitar, trombone, and piano before settling on his first true love, the saxophone. At the age of 11 while listening to the radio, Handy fell under the spell of the transcendent saxophone playing of jazz legend Dexter Gordon. Berkeley High School’s (CA) reputable Jazz Program soon beckoned, and Handy joined the ranks of graduating stellar saxophone talent including David Murray, Peter Apfelbaum, and Joshua Redman, to name a few. He attended North Texas State University and won the coveted Charlie Parker Scholarship which enabled his early college experience as a psychology major and frontrunner in the school’s exceptional One O’ Clock Jazz Ensemble.
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...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