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Miles Davis circa 1955; Duke Ellington; Louis Armstrong; Cover of Sheet Music by Fats Waller
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Biographies, Life and times of the great ones Billie Holiday in Performance 1948; Benny Goodman 1936; Art Blakey at the Open Door in NYC; Awning of Village Vanguard 1960's
Jon Hendricks

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John Carl (1921- ) Singer and lyricist

NPR Audio Feature NPR's Louis Armstrong Centennial Radio Project: Jon Hendricks
Jazz critic Stanley Crouch profiles Jon Hendricks, interviewing the artist about his touch with one of Armstrong's greatest legacies: scat singing.
(Courtesy NPRJazz.org)


At the age of 14, Jon Hendricks often sang with Art Tatum. He continued to sing and also played drums while attending college in Toledo, Ohio, where he studied literature and later, law. On one occasion during this period he worked with Charlie Parker, who advised him to take up music professionally. After moving to New York Hendricks recorded Four Brothers (1955) with Dave Lambert and Sing a Song of Basie (1957) with Lambert and Annie Ross. The vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross soon became popular for its settings of lyrics to jazz arrangements; it continued until 1964 (Yolande Bavan replaced Ross in 1962). In 1960, Hendricks wrote and directed Evolution of the Blues Song for the Modern Jazz Festival at Monterey, California. After the trio disbanded he continued to sing with various ensembles. In 1968, he moved to London and performed in Europe and Africa for five years, then moved to California, where he was a jazz critic for the San Francisco Chronicle (1973-4) and taught classes in jazz. He continues to record, and from the 1960s he has often performed with his wife Judith and children Michelle and Eric, and with Bobby McFerrin.

Hendricks excels both at setting lyrics to complex melodies and at performing those lyrics in an articulate manner, with the finesse of a virtuoso saxophonist. He is a fine scat singer, and is so adept at imitating instrumental sounds that his improvisations often surpass the solos played by his accompanists.

The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For personal, non-commercial use only. Copying or other reproduction is prohibited.
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