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Jon Hendricks (b9/16/1921)

Lyricist, Vocalist, Composer, Film and Theater Writer

Jon Hendricks was a member of the unsurpassed vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. He pioneered vocalese, the art of writing and singing lyrics to the music and solos of jazz instrumentalists. He left law school for New York in 1951 to pursue music at the urging of Charlie Parker. There he met Dave Lambert, who, as Hendricks relates it, conceived the preposterous idea of writing lyrics to Count Basie’s music as a way of being remembered when they died of starvation, which seemed near at hand. “Dave dragged me kicking and screaming to stardom”.

They multi-tracked the songs with Annie Ross because the chorus couldn’t swing. Thus was formed LH&R in 1958. Their repertoire included Hendricks’ lyrics to three Horace Silver tunes, Randy Weston’s “Little Niles,” Cannonball Adderley’s “Sermonette,” Clifford Brown’s “Joy Spring,” and Dizzy Gillespie’s “Night in Tunisia” (on which Frank Paparelli collaborated).


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