Jon Hendricks – One of the world’s most loved jazz singers and widely known as ‘The Father of Vocalese’ – the art of setting lyrics to recorded jazz instrumental standards (such as the big band arrangements of Duke Ellington and Count Basie), then arranging voices to sing the parts of the instruments. As part of the trio Hendricks, Lambert & Ross, one of the first integrated singing groups in jazz or popular music, he toured the globe as they cemented their reputation as the “Number One Vocal Group in the World”.
For his work as a lyricist, jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather called him the “Poet Laureate of Jazz” while Time dubbed him the “James Joyce of Jive.”
“I wrote the shortest jazz poem ever heard,” he once wrote by way of explaining his philosophy. “Nothin’ about huggin’ or kissin’. One word: ‘Listen.’”
Hendricks possessed a dry, raspy tenor voice and an intense feeling for rhythm. After the trio disbanded, Hendricks found success as a solo performer as well as a collaborator with acts such as The Manhattan Transfer, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis and Kurt Elling.
Jon Hendricks passed away on November 22, 2017 at age 96.
All 7 parts of this interview can be found here.