Jon Hendricks' Miles Ahead
New York Premiere
Jon Hendricks' Miles Ahead - almost 50 years in the making - is finally to receive its global premiere in New York on Friday 17 February 2017, at 7pm.
In the presence of the master wordsmith himself ‚Äď Miles Ahead will be performed by the London Vocal Project (a 20-piece choir plus rhythm section), featuring special guest soloists - all of whom have a long and deep association with Jon and his music.
Propelled by the success of 'Sing a Song of Basie' - the seminal Lambert, Hendricks and Ross album, Jon Hendricks started work on his lyricisation of Miles Ahead almost fifty years ago. However it was only in 2012 - over forty years later - that he began to collaborate closely with London Vocal Project director Pete Churchill who, with the support of the choir, has now helped to bring his creative dream to life.
Every note of both Miles Davis' distinctive solos and Gil Evans' ground-breaking big-band writing has been meticulously re-scored for voices with Jon's words imbuing each track with a new narrative. As this process neared completion LVP began to immerse itself in the soundworld of Gil Evans, memorising the scores and capturing all the nuances of the original recording.
Exciting as the rehearsal process was, however, it started to become increasingly clear that Jon might never get to hear LVP sing his lifetime's work due to the geographical distance between them. This was when Pete decided to contact Quincy Jones - a lifelong friend of Jon Hendricks - and ask for his help. It is through Quincy's generosity and the support of the Jazz Foundation of America that LVP have been able to bring Miles Ahead home to New York to be performed in the presence of its creator, the great Jon Hendricks. The project Jon began almost fifty years ago will finally be complete.
Looking ahead, LVP have been working hard in the studio putting the finishing touches to a recording of Jon Hendricks' Miles Ahead and it is due for release later this year. Furthermore, the European premiere performance, hopefully the first of many, has been scheduled in London for May 21st.
Friday 17th February 2017, 7.00pm (doors open at 6.30pm)
Jon Hendricks (born September 16, 1921) is an American jazz lyricist and singer who is considered to be one of the Godfathers of vocalese. This, the art of writing lyrics to existing instrumental solos, serves to create a new narrative for the work - whilst retaining the integrity of the original music. No one writes hipper, wittier, or more touching words than Jon Hendricks. ¬†¬†
Jon is also considered one of the best practitioners of scat singing - vocal jazz soloing in the manner of an instrumentalist. He credits his skill in this respect to the influence of Art Tatum - with whom he performed as a young man.
In 1957 he teamed up with Dave Lambert and Annie Ross to form the legendary vocal trio Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. With Jon as lyricist, the trio perfected the art of vocalese and took it around the world. They were voted ‚ÄúNumber One Vocal Group in the World‚ÄĚ five years in a row by Melody Maker magazine.
For his work as a lyricist, the jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather called him the "Poet Laureate of Jazz", while Time Magazine has dubbed him the "James Joyce of Jive". Al Jarreau insists that "pound-for-pound (he is) the best
jazz singer on the planet - maybe that's ever been".
LONDON VOCAL PROJECT
The London Vocal Project is one of the UK‚Äôs leading contemporary vocal ensembles, specialising in jazz and groove music. One of their first major collaborations was with Bobby McFerrin in the London concert of the music from his VOCAbuLarieS album. Since then LVP have continued to work on many other challenging projects - recently recording a highly acclaimed album of poetry settings with Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone. They are thrilled to be working on Jon Hendricks' Miles Ahead - an important and historic contribution to vocal jazz.
Originally trained in Canada, Pete has been based in the U.K. since 1985. Now Professor of Jazz Composition at the Royal Academy of Music in London, Pete was awarded the 2007 Parliamentary Award for services to Jazz Education.
In addition to his role as a Jazz Educator, Pete works extensively as a singer, pianist, conductor, composer, arranger and song-writer - including a year and a half as a West End Musical Director.
He has also been a member of both Kenny Wheeler's and Abdullah Ibrahim's vocal projects and was Mark Murphy‚Äôs U.K. accompanist for fifteen years. More recently, Pete conducted the 80th birthday tour of the Kenny Wheeler Big Band which culminated in the album, The Long Waiting.
Much of Pete‚Äôs spare time is now taken up with directing and writing for ‚ÄėThe London Vocal Project‚Äô.