Jon Hendricks Smokes, Dizzy's jam
Ron Scott | 9/28/2011, 7:02 p.m.
On any given night in Gotham, one can see some of the best jazz musicians on the planet, which is why the audiences are so demanding. New York audiences don't take standing ovations lightly; the artist has to really be kicking butt to get folks out of their seats.
"An Evening with Jimmy Heath and Jon Hendricks" last week proved to be one of those rare occasions at Jazz at Lincoln Center, where sparks were flying until the last note was heard. Jon Hendricks and friends led the flaming charge.
Hendricks cruised on stage wearing a very hip burgundy silk suit and colored shirt with his signature admiral's hat. The undisputed scat master, singer and lyrical genius was greeted with an immediate standing ovation out of respect for his contribution to the music and his incredible talent.
Not to mention that everyone anticipated a show that would provoke conversation for weeks and years to come, featuring the popular repertoire of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (the trio set the jazz world on its ear with their speedy syncopated harmony, with most songs written by Hendricks). With their supreme scatting abilities, a rhythm section was practically unwarranted.
Hendricks opened with a Lambert, Hendricks and Ross favorite, "It's Sand, Man," and "Everybody's Boppin'." He was accompanied by his two daughters, Aria and Michele Hendricks, and Kevin Fitzgerald Burke and an eight-piece band with tenor saxophonist Andy Farber as music director. The group was outrageous on "Everybody's Boppin'," swinging hard with a fierce beat that blasted your soul and made your toes tingle.
Hendricks was in great form. His voice was strong and melodic. Never missing a note, he mentioned his recent 90th birthday on Sept. 16. Dianne Reeves asked, "Did you find the Fountain of Youth?"
Hendricks responded laughingly, "I had a seance with Ponce de Leon."
His two daughters are super performers-and there is no mistake where the talent came from. He noted with a laugh, "We had seven children, so we felt obligated to put them in the act." Hendricks and daughter Michele stretched out on Horace Silver's "Come on Home." It was so good it should be recorded-one of the best live duets of the year.
He highlighted his vocal skills on the well-traveled ballad "September of My Years." Like Frank Sinatra and the others who performed this tune, he managed to leave his own signature, but what else would a living legend do?
Guest vocalist Sachal Vasandani joined with Hendricks for a duet on "In Walked Bud." Vasandani didn't have the chops compared to the other guests. He is a young vocalist on the scene and getting a lot of press, but he has more work to do. You heard the notes but the spark and soul in his voice were lacking. Being under the tutelage of Hendricks will surely advance his skills.
Reeves performed "Social Call"-her scatting skill has always been outstanding. She is the only female vocalist today who comes anywhere near Ella Fitzgerald or Dinah Washington.