08/29/11

Artist's Choice: Sachal Vasandani on Jon Hendricks

Today’s top jazz performers pick 10 favorite tracks by the players, singers and styles that helped define them.

More than any superlative title can suggest, Jon Hendricks embodies the jazz spirit in the way I choose to see it: soulful, fresh, free and swinging. His voice is remarkable; his musical and lyrical choices are brilliant.

“Home Cookin’”
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross with the Ike Isaacs Trio High Flying (Columbia, 1962)
Jon is probably the only singer who can pull off a casually misogynous lyric with such soul and truth that you love him more for it.

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Sachal Vasandani and Jon Hendricks
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Jon Hendricks
By Frank Stewart

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“Gimme That Wine”
Recorded in Person at the Trident
(Smash, 1963)
Each version of this song is classic, but I like this live version because of Jon’s flow and vocal timbre. The hilarious lyric is clear even at this tempo.

“No More”
Cloudburst (Enja, 1972)
This is the first version of “No More” I heard, and it inspired me to record it on my album We Move.

“Cloudburst”
Lambert, Hendricks & Ross
The Hottest New Group in Jazz (Columbia, 1960)
For me and probably anyone who likes this music, this is the defining vocalese solo.

“Tell Me the Truth”
Tell Me the Truth (Arista, 1975)
This is a protest song that really showcases some of the genius and irony of Jon’s writing. Like his powerful baritone, this record hasn’t really been talked about much—but it should be.

“We’ll Be Together Again”
Times of Love (Stanyan, 1972)
A beautiful ballad, sung with love by Jon. This is a great record of ballads with fantastic string arrangements. I wish more people knew this side of Jon. I really didn’t until he gave me this record. I haven’t stopped playing it.

“Get Me to the Church on Time”
Boppin’ at the Blue Note (Telarc, 1994)
I wore this track out in school. The festive energy, arrangement and musicianship were exactly what I was looking for as a young instrument-loving singer.

“On the Trail”
Tell Me the Truth (Arista, 1975)
A great song, solo and intro that is not often played.

“In Walked Bud”
Thelonious Monk
Underground (Columbia, 1968)
One of my least favorite Jon lyrics over one of my least favorite Monk tunes, I had to include this anyway, because listening back to Jon and Monk play together, I realized it wasn’t them that turned me off to “In Walked Bud.” It was everyone else.

“Li’l Darlin’”
Times of Love (Stanyan, 1972)
Another great one from Times of Love (later released in the U.S. as September Songs). I love Jon’s now-classic lyric; it fits the vibe of the tune perfectly. A tricky tempo, and Jon sings it with so much love in his heart and still makes it swing.

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