Pioneering Jazz Singer Jon Hendricks Dies At 96

TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Jon Hendricks, the celebrated jazz singer and lyricist with all the trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross popularized the “vocalese” singing style where words have been added to instrumental songs, has expired. He was 96.

His daughter, Aria Hendricks, confirmed his Departure to the New York Times.

She said he died at a nyc hospital.

Hendricks found fame in the 1950s and ’60s teaming with Dave Lambert and Annie Ross.

Their trio became one of their jazz vocal groups in history, and one of the latter-day stars they influenced were Manhattan Transfer and Joni Mitchell.

The trio’s first album, Sing a Song of Basie, won acclaim because of its use of vocalese, where the listeners mimic the instrumental parts.Hendricks composed the lyrics to present Basie tunes, and the three recorded their own voices in layers instead of using backup singers.

Others experimented with vocalese before Hendricks, for popularizing it, however, he’s widely regarded as the father of the singing fashion. In the 1980s, he collaborated within a record named Vocalese that won three Grammys, one for Hendricks himself.

He first teamed up with Lambert the duo needed a hit with Four Brothers and Cloudburst.   The two became a trio with the addition of Ross in 1957. The English-born Ross was known into the songs of Wardell Gray for her vocalese lyrics in the classic Twisted.

In a 1997 Associated Press interview, Hendricks remembered that Lambert said, “Let’s do something arty so that the Earth will at least know we were here. Why not lyricize 10 Count Basie things and we’ll find out if we can record an album.”

After trying out by recording a sizable group of singers, Hendricks remembered, they decided to instead create the harmonies by multitracking as a trio with Ross. After the group broke up in 1962, he pursued a solo career in London, worked as a jazz critic in San Francisco and released many solo records. Ross had success within a solo career; Lambert died in 1966.

Hendricks won a Grammy in 1986 for best male jazz vocal performance of 1985 because of his work with Bobby McFerrin on Another Night in Tunisia.   Hendricks wrote all of the lyrics for the record, to songs by Quincy Jones, Ray Charles and others. It was nominated for a 12 Grammys and won three.

In 1997, he Had Been three featured Painters to perform Wynton Marsalis’ Blood on the Fields  on a CD and Also on tour in Europe and the United States.

Won the Pulitzer Prize for 22, that exact same year.

However, the popularity of this trio that began recording has not faded. Ross and Hendricks awakened again from the late 1990s at a series of concerts. And “The All-Music Guide to Jazz” says Lambert, Hendricks and Ross “has not yet been topped as a jazz vocal group”

Recorded Twisted  on her 1975 The Hissing of Summer Lawns on Centerpiece, Court and Spark, and her 1974 album. Down Beat magazine interview at a 1979, she recalled hearing Lambert, Hendricks and Ross: The Hottest New Sound in Jazz, as a teenager.

“In a sense I’ve always considered that record to be my Beatles, because I heard every song off it…,” she said. “I really don’t think there is another record that I know every tune on, such as my own!”

Hendricks got his start at shows and also at age 14 sang for 2 years with another jazz pianist Art Tatum, who gave him music lessons after school.

“I heard what I know from him,” Hendricks told The Associated Press in a 2004 interview.

Yet he was on his way to becoming a lawyer in 1950, singing in tiny clubs at night, when his wife asked if Hendricks could sing with be-bop leader and saxophonist Charlie “Bird” Parker at a concert in town.

Parker was impressed, telling Hendricks, “You ai not no lawyer. You’re a jazz singer. You have to visit New York.” Hendricks did, two years later.

Hendricks was born Sept. 16, 1921, in Newark, Ohio, and grew up in Toledo, one of 15 children of a preacher who expected Hendricks would follow him into the ministry.

“I always felt like a traitor,” Hendricks said.

As a boy, he chose the “h” out of his first title after he went to the movies and saw an actress called Jon. He thought it would make him stand out.

Following years of performing worldwide and alive in New York, Hendricks returned to his hometown in 2000 to teach jazz history and vocal jazz in the University of Toledo.

A performer even as a teacher, he was famous for his unending enthusiasm. On the first day of class he sang pupils the story of jazz, backed up by bass, drums and piano. Pupils gave him ovations by the dozen.

He directed his own vocalese set in Toledo composed of students and local singers. They performed in France and Italy and with the Toledo Symphony.

Hendricks won awards globally. The World War II veteran has been awarded the highest honor of France, the Legion at a performance in Normandy.

He called that afternoon among his greatest thrills.