This Is Bop: Jon Hendricks and the Art of Vocal Jazz

Equinox. Nov. 2020. 256p. ISBN 9781781798744. $29.95. MUSIC
British jazz singer and journalist Jones (This Is Hip: The Life of Mark Murphy) here turns his attention to Jon Hendricks (1921–2017), most well known as one-third of the Lambert, Hendricks & Ross vocal trio from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. The author introduces contemporary readers to a talented singer and lyric writer: his youth as one of many children of an Ohio African American preacher; his encounters with jazz greats Art Tatum, Charlie Parker, and Dizzy Gillespie; his extraordinary experiences in the U.S. Army during World War II, including desertion and a court-martial; and his eventual success in recordings and concert tours. Hendricks’s two interracial marriages and his struggles with substance abuse and the none-too-subtle racism of mid-20th-century America provide substantial food for thought. Interviews with the artist and his colleagues sustain the narrative and paint a vivid picture of the jazz scene, while Jones’s expertise in analyzing Hendricks’s musical and poetic contributions is evident. Appendixes on scat, lyrics, and Hendricks’s wisdom and philosophy add interest.
VERDICT This evocative work conveys the challenges and successes Hendricks experienced and make for an affecting, well-rounded portrait of an underappreciated jazz artist who is ripe for rediscovery.
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