Recorded in Hollywood at the Crescendo.
One of the lesser-known sets by the classic jazz vocal group Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, this LP holds its own with their more famous recordings. Assisted by tenor saxophonist Zoot Sims, pianist Russ Freeman, and guitarist Jim Hall, among others, Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross sound at their best on such numbers as "Airegin," "Jackie" (a feature for Ross), "Swingin' 'Til the Girls Come Home," "Four," and "Now's the Time." This album is recommended to fans of this unique and influential vocal trio.
All Music Guide
ORIGINAL LINER NOTES:
Notes by Ralph J. Gleason, Editor JAZZ and syndicated columnist whose RHYTHM SECTION appears in such papers as the. San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe.
As far as I am concerned, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross (along with being one of the greatest kicks in music today) are the Gilbert and Sullivan of jazz. They ar performing jazz operettas five, six and seven minutes in length and have created a litany, language and literature of references that is unique and operative on a complex, multi-level basis.
Anyone can dig them: They have a message that is easily understood, but just as a knowledge of Dublin and the Irish and English literary world of that particular period is essential to understanding much of Joyce, so is a prior knowledge of jazz. musician slang and of the social and musical culture of jazz essential to a full understanding of The Trio.
It also helps, to have had a prior knowledge of the instrumental numbers to which Jon Hendricks has written his remarkable yrics and which the group sings. When you have this knowledge, the whole glorious thing becomes real. Thus exposed to the full impact of The Trio's work, one can find as much delight in it as a Savoyard does in "Pinafore" and which the student of T. S. Eliot gets from reading that delicious tour de force, "The Sweeniad."
It takes a perculiarly agile mind to create lyrics that fit exactly to trumpet, saxophone and trombone solos played in fast tempos. Jon Hendricks has done this. Each lyric line takes off from the original title and develops a full story in jazz argot that expands into a dialogue and then a three-way conversation as the other instruments (represented by the other two voices) join in. Reed and brass riffs are presented, almost classically, as a chorus behind the soloist. And, in all of this, Hendricks has managed to do what no other jazz lyricist, including Johnny Mercer, has been able to do - write lyrics for jazz creations without reshaping them into the popular song format.
Hendricks not only has an unusual voice (as do both Annie Ross and Dave Lambert) but he has the unique ability to take on the timbre of the instrument whose solo he is singing. A bass player (Monk Montgomery of the Mastersounds) fell apart when he first heard "Swingin' Till The Girls Come Home." "He's got Pettiford's sound," he almost shouted. Hendricks, of course, has been a musician (he was a drummer in Toledo, Ohio, bands some years back and picked up on jazz originally from his neighbor. Art Tatum) and in recent years has been "thinking about the bass." Annie Ross wrote an original lyric to "Twisted" (the Wardell Gray tenor solo) a few years back and it won her some fame as the new Freudian vocalist when it was released. Dave Lambert, a former tree surgeon, drummer and vocal group organizer, has been the organizer here again. "He was always after me to work up new things," Jon Hendricks says.
What they have worked up -i.e., lyrics to jazz instrumentals with words for all the parts - is of more help to the understanding of what jazz is and how it works than all the radio and TV shows put together. ,You can never hear the numbers they do again in the original version without mentally (or verbally!) singing the lyrics. The Basie band now sounds incomplete without The Trio.
How does Jon Hendricks pick up tunes to do? "I just listen for one that sings to me," he says. "All of them sing to me, but one that sings very clear is the one I pick. If you listen long enough, you'll hear it finally. Then after a time, words begin to come to you. Whatever the horn is saying; they just form themselves."
On this LP, you'll find some startling examples of songs that sing to Jon Hendricks. I hope they also sing to you.