American jazz singer Jon Hendricks, who pioneered the evocative vocalese style, have passed away at a New York City hospital on Wednesday. He was also well known for furthering the art of vocalese with the trio “Lambert, Hendricks & Ross.”
His death was confirmed by his daughter Aria Hendricks, as per a New York Times story.
The specific music genre Hendricks is well known for, Vocalese is a style of jazz singing wherein words are sung note for note to melodies that were originally created by a soloist’s improvisation. The idea was conceived by singer Eddie Jefferson but Hendricks and his jazz group expanded it well.
Born in September 16, 1921 in Newark, Ohio, John Carl Hendricks and his 14 siblings moved many times, following their father’s assignments as minister, before settling permanently in Toledo. There, he began his singing career at the age of seven. He said: “By the time I was 10, I was a local celebrity in Toledo.”
Hendricks formed a trio with singers Dave Lambert and Annie Ross when he moved to New York in 1952; whereby seven pioneering albums in the late 1950s and early 60s were released.
Kurt Elling, a jazz vocalist and one of the current proponents of vocalese, described Hendricks as “the godfather of vocalese and perfector of the art”.
Ross left the trio in 1962 and he continued working well even when he was in his 90s.
Hendricks died on the same year and the same age with fellow musician Chuck Berry, one of the “original” Rock and Roll legends who died on March 2017.
To know how”vocalese” sounds like, watch this video by devoidzer01 shared on YouTube: