In late spring 2000, I got a phone call from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra sales force. Alerted to my existance when I bought Kurt Elling tickets the month before, they set out to sell me jazz season tickets for 2000-2001. "In October, our first concert is Lambert, Hendricks & Ross."
"What?!?" I interrupted. "Dave Lambert died years before I was born."
Turns out they didn't think anyone would know who they were talking about if they said "Hendricks and Ross" were coming to town. Fools. I refused to buy a season ticket, but I promised them I'd be there for those two. After all, this was Jon Hendricks we were talking about: "The musical godfather of vocalese, the perfector of the art." (Kurt Elling)
Jim Bazin's review of a '99 Hendricks & Ross concert raised my expectations going into the concert. So they could still sing, eh?
To make a long story short, yes, they can. They zoomed through the Basie songbook effortlessly. And "Cloudburst" -- oh my, sheer glory. It's hard to imagine Jon ever sang it any better. He got a well-deserved standing ovation for it.
There's not much to say that Jim didn't say already. If you like vocalese, you owe it to yourself to see these two every chance you get.
PS Jon is now teaching at the University of Toledo.
PPS They were backed by a quartet, similar in makeup to the quartet Jim described in his review: "Peter Mihelich on piano, Paul Gill on bass, Walter Bolden on drums, and Paul Meyers on guitar." I didn't catch their names, so I cannot verify these were the same people I saw.