Jazz vocalist Jon Hendricks dead at 96, report says

Jazz singer Jon Hendricks talks about his career

Hendricks, who passed away in a NY hospital at the age of 96, rose to fame in the 1950s as a member of the vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.

His daughter Aria Hendricks confirmed with The New York Times.

Once called the "James Joyce of jive" by Time magazine, Hendricks was best known for a technique known as vocalese (an invention credited to Eddie Jefferson), where singers take well-known jazz instrumental pieces and riff off of their titles to create stories that match the musical melodies in their intricacies. He moved to NY in 1952, where he formed a trio with singers Dave Lambert and Annie Ross, and released seven pioneering albums in the late 1950s and early 60s. The album was given a Grammy Hall of Fame award in 1998.

"Full peace at long last to 96 yr-old genius, Jon Hendricks", he wrote on Facebook.

National Public Radio, which interviewed Hendricks around his 90th birthday in 2011, described the groundbreaking singer as "The Father of Vocalese", but, as the Times points out, Hendricks did not invent the style. On his return, he dropped his studies of law on the advice of the saxophonist Charlie Parker, who told him "you're not a lawyer, you're a singer of jazz", and try the musical adventure in NY.

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"Being courageous, I would do the whole song, solos and all, and write words for the solos that gave them their place in the song. It's something like writing a novel".

In the mid-1960s, he embarked on a solo career, and accumulates occupations: he works for the tv, becomes critical to the "San Francisco Chronicle", and even a teacher at the university of Toledo, while continuing to sing throughout the world. He was also awarded with the federal National Endowment of Art's Jazz Master fellowship in 1993.

His wife, Judith, died in 2015.

Jazz-pop singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum added: "Farewell to this great man, Mr Jon Hendricks, at 96, one of the most dexterous and joyous singers to walk planet earth".


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