Credited with popularizing the concept of vocalese, pioneering jazz singer/songwriter Jon Hendricks makes a rare local club appearance, backed by Jane Bunnett with Don Thompson, Larry Cramer, Neil Swainson and Terry Clarke, at Hugh’s Room (2261 Dundas West), Wednesday (March 5), 8:30 pm. $32, advance $28. 416-531-6604.
Why was your performance of Tell Me The Truth at the Lincoln Center Higher Ground Hurricane Relief benefit concert left off the CD?
Lincoln Center thrives on corporate donations, and they kiss lots of ass to get them. Tell Me The Truth was probably a little too raw for their purposes, but I had all kinds of people tell me afterwards that it was the best thing on the program. All the other artists sang about themselves, and who really gives a shit about their hit records when people are suffering in New Orleans?
Of all your awards and citations, including the French Legion of Honour, which was the most memorable moment?
It was getting that phone call from Duke Ellington in my Vancouver hotel room early one morning asking me to be the featured vocalist in his first Sacred Concert. He could’ve gotten Sarah Vaughan, Frank Sinatra or Tony Bennett, so I asked him, why me? Duke said, “You know, Jon, anybody can sing about God. I need someone who can do it with authority.”
How did you come to write the English lyrics to Antonio Carlos Jobim’s bossa nova song Desafinado?
The song’s publisher asked Johnny Mercer about writing lyrics for it, and he called me up and said, “I can’t do anything with this song, Jon.” So I ended up writing the whole thing in about 15 minutes. I didn’t know any Portuguese. I just gauged what was needed spiritually.
The composition is co-credited to Jessie Cavanaugh. Who is that?
That’s an alias of the publisher, Howie Richmond. He said he wanted to add the name as co-writer just to establish the name with BMI. I was naive about publishing so I allowed him to do it, and he ended up taking all the money.
Who do you like in the presidential race?
Obama’s going all the way. And soon after we’ll see America’s second civil war. That’s going to happen whether Obama gets into the White House or not because of the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots. The middle class has been completely wiped out. My wife and I will be looking at some property in Canada.