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Bebop Spoken There

Howlin' Wolf: “He [Charlie Patton] was a nice guy, but he just loved the bottle--like all the rest of the musicians. He was a great drinker.” – (DownBeat December 16, 1967).

Frank Zappa: “Those kids [US students] wouldn't know music if it came up and bit 'em on the ass.” – (DownBeat October 3, 1969).

Today Thursday April 26

Afternoon

Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone NE27 0DA. Tel: 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Tees Valley Jazzmen - No.1 Market Place, Bishop Auckland DL12 7NJ. Tel: 01388 665533. 12:30pm. Free admission.

Gateshead Jazz Appreciation Society - Gateshead Central Library, Prince Consort Road, Gateshead NE8 4LN. 5:00pm. Fortnightly meetings, all welcome.

Evening

Strictly Smokin’ Big Band - Millstone, Haddrick’s Mill Road, South Gosforth, Newcastle NE3 1QL. 0191 2853229. 7pm.

Maine St. Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Holywell Lane, Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5NJ. 8:30pm. Free.

Bearpark Trio - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8pm. £3 (£2 student/MU.).

New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees TS18 4AW. 8:30pm.

Tees Hot Club w. Kevin Eland (tpt); Donna Hewitt (sax); Graham Thompson (keys) - Dorman’s Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. Tel: 01642 823813. 9pm. Free.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

The "Real" J Hendricks

(By Frank Griffith)
With all due respect to Jimi Hendrix, an equally important and innovative icon of 20th-century American popular music, I would like to share my work with singer/lyricist Jon Hendricks in the wake of his recent passing.

As a saxophonist/arranger, resident in NYC from 1980-96 I first met Jon in December 1993 when an arranger colleague of mine, Mark Lopeman, asked me to assist him with some last minute orchestrations for Jon in anticipation of some gigs around Christmas of that year. Jon had been writing lyrics to several of Miles Davis’ solos from Gil Evans’ arrangements from their 1957 "Miles Ahead" LP on Columbia. These included "My Ship", "I Don't Wanna Be Kissed", "New Rhumba" and "The Maids of Cadiz". These were also performed the following year for Jon’s Christmas week-long engagement at NYC's Blue Note club. The band included such luminaries as Wynton Marsalis, Red Holloway, Benny Golson and Al Grey.
Without getting too technical, my task was to transcribe the original Gil orchestrations (no published scores existed then) and transpose them into Jon's key as his tenor voice was considerably lower than Miles' trumpet and to re-orchestrate them to a nonet with 5 horns. So, in the end, quite a few "plates to spin" concurrently but this was mitigated by the sheer enjoyment of getting to know this great music intimately by going through the process of transcribing and adapting it.

Jon's enthusiasm with this new and forward-looking project was so infectious and inspiring that only a fool would turn down this arranging opportunity. Hard work, yes, but well worth it in so many ways.

Later on, I adapted Gershwin's ""Bess Oh Where Are You Now" from the 1958 "Porgy and Bess" LP. After copying the chart by hand we discovered at rehearsal that its key of Db was not suitable due to one high note at the end being beyond Jon's reach and it had to be recopied into the key of C! Sadly, this was before computer music software allowed one to transpose a chart at the push of a button so I had to recopy the chart again. Oh well....all part of the fun.

I also did several gigs with Jon's nonet during this time which were all very enjoyable as his ebullience on stage with both the band and audience was infectious even if the music went awry, on occasion.  I can also remember ringing Jon to discuss his key for "The Maids of Cadiz" and I suggested Eb instead of E to which he asked, "Which one's higher?" Not sure if he was serious or not. 

In my visits to Jon and Judith's rather spartan 2 bedroom apartment in Lower Manhattan's Battery City, it would not be uncommon to find him still in his pyjamas at 2PM in the afternoon. The second bedroom was the office often full of staff tending to matters to do with publishing royalties and gig bookings etc. Lots going on in that place. Jon and Judith's lifestyle and work were inseparable - leaving no demarcating lines between them. I believe that this could have played a role (along with his good genes) in his longevity (96). He was naturally a good-natured and optimistic kind of guy and this certainly came through each time he picked up the microphone.

As many LJN (and BSH) readers will know, pianist, vocalist, choir leader and arranger (is there anything that he doesn't do?) Pete Churchill, had collaborated with Jon over the last ten years to adapt and orchestrate an entire programme's worth of Gil/Miles material for the twenty-five strong London Vocal Project choir (www.londonvocalproject.com). The LVP performed this material at St Peter's Church in NYC in February 2017 all to great acclaim. Jon did attend the event but did not perform. His presence would certainly have greatly imbued the event. The concert was documented in both audio and video formats and we all await the forthcoming release of this with great anticipation. I am also very pleased (and honoured) to have been involved in the beginnings of this project twenty-three years ago and never would have imagined that it would have reached the stages that it has through the efforts of my friend and colleague (and neighbour), Pete Churchill.

Maybe they should rename the NYC venue of the premiere St Peter's Churchill?
(Or maybe not...?)

The "Real" J. Hendricks was a truly inspirational and positive force in the world of vocal jazz. Long may he and his music live.
Frank Griffith.

1 comment :

Roly said...

A heartfelt and beautifully written tribute.

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Whilst we appreciate the many emails, texts, messages and other communications we receive requesting album/gig reviews on BSH, regrettably, we are unable to reply to them all other than those we are able to answer with a positive response.
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About this blog - contact details.

Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt.
Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century.
The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes.
Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)
Contact: lanceliddle@gmail.com I look forward to hearing from you.

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