Jon Hendricks, “Poet Laureate of Jazz,” Sings May 4
Director of Media Relations
AMHERST, Mass.—Legendary jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks will appear on Friday, May 4 at 8 p.m. in Buckley Recital Hall at Amherst College. Hendricks will be joined by his daughter Aria Hendricks, his new trio (Peter Mihelich on piano, Neal Miner on bass and Andy Watson on drums), the Amherst College Jazz Ensemble and composer, lyricist and pianist David Lahm (Amherst ’61.) The concert, free and open to the public, will celebrate Robin McBride’s gift to the college of a collection of more than 2000 jazz albums. McBride graduated from Amherst in 1959.
Jon Hendricks, born in 1920, has been called the “James Joyce of jive” by Time magazine and “the poet laureate of jazz” by jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather, for his ability to write songs that weave together different vocal parts. Hendricks began singing on the radio in his teens. In 1958 he, Annie Ross and Dave Lambert formed the trio Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.
Lambert, Hendricks and Ross toured and recorded all over the world, developing a repertoire of “vocalese,” a style of setting witty intricate lyrics to improvisational instrumental jazz solos and crafting swinging poetry. Their first recording was Sing Along With Basie (1958), which was just what they did: singing all the parts (except rhythm) to recreate with voices the big-band standards of Basie, Ellington and others.
Hendricks continued a solo and ensemble career, and was jazz critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. He taught music at California State University at Sonoma and the University of California at Berkeley. He has worked with Count Basie, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Buck Clayton, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk, Wynton Marsalis and Bobby McFerrin, and his 1985 album Vocalese won five Grammy Awards. In recent years Hendricks has been singing again with Annie Ross.