Vocalese

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Way, way back when I was about 7 years old, I was mesmerized with a new arrangement of Count Basie’s music. Not done by the Count himself, but a group (that I learned much later on) was called Lambert, Henricks, & Ross (LHR). What they had done was overdub all the Basie Project’s music, recreating the concept of the big band sound using only their voices. By the time I knew the group’s name, the album had been redone- with Count Basie playing along. LHR was generally considered to be the most influential singing group in jazz history. (It was also one of the first integrated groups, to boot!)

I was, by then, hooked on jazz. And, back then, I was lucky enough to be able to watch all the old musicals (the ones with jazz music, of course) almost any day of the week on TV.  Between Channel 9 and Channel 2, and even sometimes Channels 5 and 11, you could find Count Basie, Duke Ellingwood, Ella Fitzgerald, Bennie Goodman, Cab Calloway, Artie Shaw performing- the list goes on.

But, I lost track of LHR. Their jazz “shtick” was what became known as vocalese. Not scat, with which Ella rewarded her listeners. No, vocalese involved putting words to instrumental music. Tongue-twisting, super speed lyrics to amplify the music’s entertainment. And, Jon (he changed the spelling of his first name) Hendricks of LHR managed to spew his words with breakneck speed.

With time, I fell in love with the Manhattan Transfer (the second most influential singing group in jazz history). A love that continued (it still does, even though Tim Hauser, the founder,  passed away three years ago) for decades- long enough to engage my children in their music. And, when the Manhattan Transfer album, Vocalese, came out, my two girls were also hooked. They didn’t even know that Jon Hendricks was the additional voice they heard on that album. Until they saw all of them performa at Wolf Trap. (We lived some 100 miles away from this venue at the time.)

You see, Jon had written the lyrics for that Vocalese album (which won multiple grammies- including 1 for himself and for Bobby McFerrin).

Jon eventually returned to his alma mater (University of Toledo) to teach jazz singing from 2000 to 2015. But, Jon died last month (22 November 2017- on the 54th anniversary of the JFK assassination. At the ripe old age of 96!

Now, we just need some other folks to pick up the baton. More vocalese, please!Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

 

 

Ding, ding, ding, ding!  Today’s the day.  The last day you (those 65 and older) can acquire your  Medicare Advantage or Part D (for drugs) insurance? 

And, if you are under 65, then you’ve got just 8 days to pick the best PPACA/Obamacare option to cover yourself and your family.   (As of now, there still is a 2.5% penalty if you don’t get yours!)

Open Season 4 Dummies

Oh, and today is the 76th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing.  The first time in some about 150 years that America experienced war within its borders.  Back then, another “America First” campaign existed- which meant we wouldn’t eradicate the Nazi scourge of Europe and the extermination of the Jews or contain the Japanese expansion of the countries of the Pacific.  What’s that again?   Those that don’t study history are bound to repeat it?

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