Jazz Fan? Do You Remember Jon Hendricks?
Two weeks ago, at the Monterey Jazz Festival, I was sharing a memory with a friend of the top jazz vocal group of the late 50s and early 60s, Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. I told him about interviewing Jon Hendricks twice over the years. I got home and pulled up my interview with Jon and his wife Judith from 2013.
I met Jon and Judith for dinner in Toledo, OH on my way back from my 2013 East Coast book tour. We went back to my hotel room for the interview. I recorded them with my iPhone. After they left, I checked to see if the audio and video were OK. It all came out fine. I called my wife shaking with excitement to tell her: “I just had Jon and Judith Hendricks in my hotel room. Jon sang How High the Moon into my godamn iPhone. I don’t know if I’m about to pass out or wet my pants.” It was one of the most exiting evenings of my life. Please take a look at this charming interview.
I asked how they met. The story they each tell is captivating and rich with jazz history.
LH&R were opening at Birdland in NYC with the Count Basie Orchestra. Judith was working at the club and stayed away from Jon because she was attracted to him and knew a black / white relationship would just be trouble in 1959 – even in liberal NYC. She said he was the Harry Belefonte of jazz, and that is irresistible! Fate had other plans. Jon came back from smoking a joint with Percy Heath (bass player for the Modern Jazz Quartet) when he saw Judith for possibly the last time. He asked out and she said “Yes.” They were together for the rest of their lives.
Jon went on the record “How High the Moon” with Dave Brubeck. It was so successful, Dustin Hoffman called Jon to tell him it was the best thing he ever heard. Bay Area fans may remember his wildly successful “Evolution of the Blues” that ran for five years in San Francisco.
Unfortunately we lost Judith in 2015 and Jon in 2017. They are hugely missed.