When the Zurich Chamber Orchestra aka the Zürcher Kammerorchester wanted to promote its new season in 2012 it commissioned studio Virtual Republic to think about listening to a symphony as a ride, or more exactly an emotional rollercoaster. And it returned with this brief interpretation of the first violin score for the fourth movement of Ferdinand Ries’ Second Symphony.
It might not be as easy to follow as the Music Animation Machine we posted about last week, but the building crescendo of the violin’s line makes for a lovely ascent, but once over the peak, the furious drop is all vertiginous runs until its sudden stop.
Or as Virtual Republic described their own work:
The notes and bars were exactly synchronized with the progression in the animation so that the typical movements of a rollercoaster ride match the dramatic composition of the music.
The production company’s Vimeo page shows a lot of domestic product commercial CGI work, from dishwashers to paint, so the chance to jump on something a bit more artistic must have been a relief.
With one band made up of members from all over the world with different backgrounds already gracing the Breaking More Waves Ones to Watch 2018 list (#3 – Superorganism) it seems appropriate to add another. The rowdy Pink Kink may be based in Liverpool, but their five members all hail from different countries across Europe. With just two recorded songs out there to their name, the street harassment feminist anthem Bubblebutt and the hungry and horny Munchie Magic, Pink Kink are gaining a name for themselves not only through their hyper-energetic songs, but their live shows. “The best band in the UK.” “A bit mad” “An explosion of colour and pop chaos.” These are just some of the things I’ve seen tweeted by various commentators after seeing the band play in the last few months. There’s a danger with the two songs that Pink Kink have released so far that they will just be treated as a novelty act, but it seems that there is a lot more to this band than just that. With musical styles that range through indie, jazz, pop, punk, shoegaze and electro and an emerging political edge it may be that we all have to give Pink Kink a bit of time before we get the whole picture, but certainly that picture is a vibrant, creative and exciting one. Pink Kink are out supporting Pussy Riot right now. Expect them to tear it up wherever they play in 2018. Pink Kink – Bubblebutt
Traditionally, anything published on U.S. Thanksgiving Day must be about being thankful. In the current political environment, it can be difficult to feel that way.
Fortunately, there are people doing outstanding work on sustainability and resilience – the keys to making the coming anthropocene epoch a good one instead of the dystopia we all fear. I’m thankful for all the people – artists, scientists, activists, and so on – doing that work.
I’ve had two recent experiences that highlight the work that’s going on and the possibilities that flow from it. One was a lecture by Prof. Elena Bennett from McGill University, who works on ecosystem processes and interaction and is behind the ambitious project, Seeds of a Good Anthropocene.
Bennett’s project is seeking the pockets of a better future that already exist. She is also working on ways of doing scientific storytelling about good anthropocenes by using various positive projects and having groups develop scenarios starting from that point. “Stories are powerful things,” she said.
She also said “Hope engenders agency. Agency engenders hope.” I really like that thought.
The other positive experience was a tour of the Sacramento offices of the architectural firm Arch/Nexus, which has renovated an old building with the goal of meeting the Living Building Challenge. If they succeed – and they’re close – they will be the fifteenth such building in the world and the first in California.
The two events merged together nicely, because the Living Building Challenge is one of the kinds of “seeds” Bennett is talking about.
Be net-zero on energy use – that is, generate at least as much energy as they use.
Be net-zero on water – that is, bring in all their water and get rid of water waste without being part of a water system.
Avoid using dangerous chemicals in the construction or renovation process – a tricky problem, since everything from paint to carpet to ceiling tiles can have some problem chemicals.
Give the people living or working there natural light and ventilation.
Use edible plants for landscaping.
Make sure any water run-off (from parking lots, etc.) goes to the natural location for that area.
Plus a lot of other things.
The Arch/Nexus building in Sacramento uses PV on its roof for energy. Its generation has created 150 percent of its need, which means it has been able to sell energy to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.
They’re using rain barrels to collect water. By their calculations, even in a drought year – a very key issue in California — they can collect enough using three large storage tanks to provide all the water needs for 45 employees.
This is partly because they put in composting toilets, which use very little water. The end product of the composting process is collected by a company that then uses it on non-food agriculture.
Gray water – water from showers and sinks and such – is used to maintain a living wall of greenery in the office and to water plants outside. Because of both those things, they don’t use the sewer system at all.
They have designed a filtration system for using rain water for drinking water, but they still need to meet state and city water district rules, which are arcane and not designed for their system. But once that’s done, they will get no city water at all.
Making sure they didn’t use any bad chemicals in the renovation was one of the more complicated tasks. They had one person whose job was solely to research every product they wanted to use to make sure it complied. In the case of paint, they had to get a company to mix a paint specifically for them – though now that company is marketing that paint to others.
The building they chose was an old printing shop and was – to put it bluntly – an ugly box building. They saw renovating it to make it both more beautiful and to meet the challenge as a real plus.
One of the things I liked best about the building is that people were involved and engaged in making the good energy systems happen. For example, the system doesn’t automatically switch from air conditioning to open windows when the temperature changes; instead, people are alerted so they can do it themselves.
They have a full-time employee whose job is to make sure all the systems are working. She goes up on the roof to clean off solar panels and goes into the utility room to crank the composting devices so that they aerate properly, along with many other tasks.
Even on a cloudy day, they get enough natural light through skylights and windows to need very little additional lighting inside. And they found in the summer that even when the temperature reached the mid-90s, their air conditioning system wasn’t necessary until about 5 p.m. That is, building design alone kept the building cool on medium-hot days. (It does hit triple digits in Sacramento in the summer.)
This kind of project is pricey now, but that, like the price of PV panels, is going to drop. It also shows that sustainable doesn’t have to mean uncomfortable.
I find thinking about Bennett’s talk coupled with the Arch/Nexus building and many other things I’ve been reading about is inspiring me on two fronts.
One is science fictional. I’ve written several short stories (including “Chatauqua” in Nevertheless, She Persisted) set in a future where people are creating a better – if shaky – world despite the problems caused by climate change. I have a long term plan to mine these stories and other research for a novel.
The other is more personal: I want to be part of some project that can be a seed for a Good Anthropocene. Right now the thing that speaks to me most is housing that is sustainable, is affordable for everyone, and creates community, but there are many, many more.
By the end of December, net neutrality may be a thing of the past. We’ll pay the price. You’ll pay the price. Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will make out like bandits.
If you need a quick reminder of what net neutrality is, what benefits it brings and what you stand to lose, watch Vi Hart’s 11-minute explainer above. It lays things out quite well. Then, once you have a handle on things, write or call Congress now and make a last stand for the open web.
If you’d like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.
Venus in Scorpio sextile Pluto in Capricorn, both at 17°
Sun enters Sagittarius
Wednesday, November 22nd
Neptune stations Direct at 11° of Pisces
Saturday, November 25th
Mercury in Sagittarius trine Uranus in Aries, both at 25°
Growth isn’t easy. It requires discomfort. It requires that we navigate around our expectations that things should be easy. It requires that we hold our reactions to what is uncomfortable.Long enough to learn something about ourselves. Long enough to get to know what has remained hidden until now. Long enough to learn how to love ourselves through the process that we are in.
As Scorpio season comes to a close (though lessons from these waters will not run dry entirely, as Jupiter will remain there all year), Venus lines up to form a sextile with Pluto. This transit encourages us to integrate the lessons that Scorpio season flooded us with. This transit helps us to honor the intensity of our love. This transit reminds us of the transformative power of connection. This transit can reawaken our commitment to reducing harm by understanding how and when we tend to perpetuate it.
We heal a little bit of our hearts each time we witness ourselves in our entirety. We all must learn to love the hardest parts of ourselves back into softness.
On the same day as the Venus/Pluto sextile, the sun moves into Sagittarius. From the regenerative subterranean escapades of Scorpio season, the sun’s entrance into Sagittarius inspires us to make leaps and bounds above ground. Flying through time and space, Sagittarius is the seeker, the journeyer, the teacher, the wisdom-carrier.
The sun meets Mercury and Saturn while in Sagittarius. Both planets are currently undergoing incredibly important journeys here. Mercury, already slowing down to station retrograde on December 3rd, will cross paths with Saturn not once, but two times. Saturn, about to end its 2.5 year journey through Sagittarius, is tying up the lessons we have learned here. In the coming weeks we will be reviewing them. Lessons of faith and fortitude. Explorations and practical innovations. Building structures sturdy and flexible enough to be home to our ever-expanding understanding of the world and our place in it.
This Saturday, Mercury will trine Uranus, asking us to receive and deliver the ideas that see life beyond the boxes we are taught to put ourselves into. It’s a transit that helps us find new strategies to old problems and, as Mercury moves more slowly, this wisdom reminds us that it isn’t about how fast we move, but how thoughtfully we do.
Wednesday pulls focus, however, as Neptune stations direct at 11° of Pisces. Any planet changing direction will tend to do that. Neptune, deity of the oceans and seas, in Pisces, the mutable water sign, reminds us of the fluids that connect us all. Oceans. Tears. Waters of the womb. We are dependent on water. Indebted to water. Descendants of water.
Neptune is a planet that infuses whatever it touches with idealism. Escapism. Fantasy. It reminds us of the incredible power of suggestion. Of imagery. Of intoxicants. Neptune works through images, dreams, and illusions. Sometimes we need a little make-believe in order to get into the groove of manifesting something into being. Sometimes we have to fake it until we make it. With Neptune stationing direct, this aspect of our personal and collective world gets amplified.
Look to see if you have any planets between 10° – 12° of Pisces, Gemini, Virgo or Sagittarius as they will be most effected by this transit.
*Your weekly horoscopes are meant to be read as inspiration. If you know both your rising sign and sun sign, please read both horoscopes. They both contain important information. You’ll know which resonates more for you from week to week. Take what works for you, leave the rest. If you want to share this work you must quote it and link it to this post and website. Thank you for your support and for spreading the work around, we really appreciate it and you!
Aries & Aries Rising
This week’s astrology pulls focus on your long-term plans. As the sun moves into Sagittarius, issues with travel, teaching, learning and publishing opportunities surface. This moment isn’t about barreling ahead, however. This moment is best spent gathering information about which of your adventures have been the most satisfying, and which have been more taxing than they were worth.
These next few weeks will ask you to review the lessons of the past 2-3 years. Lessons about your faith. Philosophies. Strategies for the future. Take some time this week to investigate what propelled you onto the path that you are currently on. Why did you decide to move in this direction? Which of your intentions for doing so are still solid and sustaining? Which were based in fear? A feeling of lack? The need to fill in a gap?
Notice what intentions lie at the center of your current plans for the future. How in-line are they with your integrity? Do they amplify it? Do they contradict it? How does the thought of your future strategies strengthen you? Increase your energy? Inspire your best to come forth? If the thought of them doesn’t, the reality of them won’t. Remember to keep orienting yourself towards all that wakes you up, and keep divesting from all that keeps you numb to your soul’s desires.
It’s a good time to contemplate why you’d do it. It’s a good time to question if you really have it to give. It’s a good time to ponder if it’s a fair trade.
For both sides.
As the sun enters Sagittarius, joining Mercury and Saturn, it highlights the progress and the prickly edges of your exchanges. It asks you to contemplate what you give your energy to. And why. Allow time to investigate your reasons for giving others your time, energy and talents. Investigate what you are actually asking of others when you need their efforts and exchanges.
Make sure that every investment you make, or ask others to, is aligned with motivations you can write home about. Make an effort to remember the boundaries that keep you feeling firmly rooted in yourself. Remind yourself that your power is amplified every time you enter into partnerships that honor your limits and support your steady growth.
This week highlights the hopefulness that friends can fill you with and the importance of sharing your dreams with those that weave the same kind of reflective reverie. Find yourself in the places that support your visions and your aspirations for the future to keep you buoyed in the present.
What dreams do you have for your career? What visions do you hold for your professional life? What do you most wish your work to be infused with?
Brew your potions. Intoxicate your profession with them. Seduce your aspirations into reality.
This week, as Neptune stations direct it encourages you to believe in the power of invoking all that you want to experience in your career.
You are a powerful creator.
Place your awareness on all that you wish to experience more of so that you will naturally veer towards creating it. Make a point of praising your desires. Invite them into your consciousness so that you can experience their emotional impact on you. Whatever we feel strongly about, we tend to make more of. Feel your way into the creation of your success.
Take some time this week to daydream about the kind of impact you wish to make in the world. The kind of sentiment you wish to inspire in others. The kind of kindness you hope gets paid forward. Take note of the relationships that help guide you, inspire you and support you in your journey. The relationships that hold you accountable to your goals. The relationships that serve as good containers for your concoctions. The relationships that require your commitment and your dedication to moving through the process of becoming. A good relationship will pull every poison from our system. The trick is learning how to hold the experience without shutting down, blaming others or shaming ourselves for being human. The coming weeks will teach you many lessons along these lines. Stay open to learning something entirely new about you and your partners.
This week give yourself some room to move around. You don’t have to have a good reason for an adventure. Needing one is enough.
Get some fresh air in your lungs. Sunlight on your skin. New environments that inspire you.
With an incredible amount of work to get done over the coming month, you’ll need to fortify yourself with all that keeps you inspired to engage in your growth process. Practices that have you developing your spiritual strength. Routines that keep your awareness on the bigger picture. Whatever helps you to stay connected to yourself, do a little more of it everyday.
There is more to this moment than you can make out. More to this time than might make sense. More to the events that are unfolding than you might understand. Your work is to trust the process that you are in. Your work is to stay with it until the end. Your work is to know that whatever you leave prematurely will have to be dealt with in another form. You can choose to learn the lessons somewhere else, but you can’t opt out of them completely. Choosing to support yourself through any discomfort can be key to moving more efficiently towards resolution. Towards a clearer understanding of what is needed from you in the moment. Towards a more integrated understanding of what life is helping you to develop internally, in spite of how it might appear on the outside.
Your creations need you. Wait for you. Work your last nerve sometimes, but the efforts that you put into your creative projects come back to you a million fold over the following weeks and months.
Whatever you have learned about focusing your talent to grow your potential is your golden ticket to fulfillment. Every small thing you do, every seemingly insignificant skill you master, every mindful moment you give your projects adds up to a major accomplishment. It adds up to a life spent in relationship with your potential. It adds up to proving your talents are worth the effort to work on. It adds up to giving yourself the opportunity to find out how you shine.
As you work to reclaim the right to take up space, be encouraging with yourself. As you begin to integrate recent lessons about healing the wounds of your past, be gentle with your process. As you continue to learn what it means to meet your own needs, congratulate yourself every time you do. Most of us are still waiting for someone somewhere to give us a little nod of appreciation. Some of us are still awaiting thunderous applause. Give yourself a little of both. Cheer your sincere efforts on. The worst that can happen is that you start to enjoy the effort it takes to create your life as you need it to be.
What are you learning to let your partners help you with? Hold you through? Carry with you? What softening has your heart been yearning to melt into? Embrace? Experience?
Ask for help. Allow yourself time to express, experience and witness your vulnerability. It is powerful. Intelligent. Full of information to unpack. Vulnerability is a virtue. It is a portal through which we can connect to the moment more fully. Find the spaces where it is safe for you to be so. Spaces that are strong enough to hold your tenderest parts. Spaces wise enough to reflect the truth of your experiences.
Opening to the moment reminds us that success isn’t always in the accomplishing of things. It is also (and maybe mostly) in our ability to learn along the way. Give yourself permission to take this time to honor what you are being taught.
As the sun, Mercury and Saturn sink down to the root of your chart, you’re asked to take notice of what you have as a foundation. What homes you have been able to build over the past 3 years. What family dynamics you have to review your relationship to.
You are closing in on understanding, in a much deeper way, the needs that you have and how to fulfill them. Stay with that process as it is bound to bring you information over the next month that will reveal to you things you didn’t know you needed.
The next month asks you to take an in-depth look at the ways in which you use your days. The ways in which you structure your time tells a tale. Where you put your conscious awareness has an impact.
The planets are suggesting a mental cleanse. A media diet. A boundary to help reclaim your attention. To protect your intellectual energy. To encourage your ability to think on your own terms. The planets want to help you move into a deeper relationship with your intuition. Your internal way of knowing. Your gut reaction.
Give yourself some time to experiment with what disciplines help you access this wisdom within. Which help you attain mental clarity. Which bring you moments of calm. Which help you tap into the power of your thoughts when directed towards where you have agency. Keep oriented towards the moment. The future is a fine thing to ponder, but right now you are being asked to be incredibly intentional about how you spend the moment that you are in.
The material realm is a wonderful teacher. Financial consequences generally grab hold of our attention immediately. The trick is to take the lessons seriously without getting tricked into thinking that material objects hold more power than we do. Or any power save for what we give them.
Over the past 3 years you’ve been asked to make what you can from the assets that you have access to. It’s been a test of your tenacity. Creativity. Ability to dedicate yourself to the incredible task of building yourself a bridge to the support that you need.
Now it’s time to review that bridge. Making sure it is steady. Making sure it is reliable. Making sure that you know it is still a work in progress. The point of this work hasn’t been to make any one immovable decision about your work. The point has been to make your dedication to your spiritual growth, through your experiences of the physical world unfaltering. Unwavering. You are not what you earn or amass. You are what you feel about yourself as you do so.
The consequences of what you say yes to are extra impactful over the next month. Say yes to what you want to help take shape. Say yes to what you are willing to struggle with. Say yes to what you are prepared to work hard with and for.
The ripple effect of what you say no to has a defining quality that cannot be underestimated at the moment. Give yourself time when you need to negotiate. Ask for a moment to sit with things. Sleep on them. Mull them over.
You have the right to take your time.
You need never rush a right decision. What isn’t yours isn’t going to work out no matter if you hurry it or run circles around it. But what is yours will always be. Look for what is effortless to say yes to.
As the sun, Mercury and Saturn all come together in Sagittarius you get to reflect upon the incredible work you’ve done on yourself over the past 3 years. What you have said yes to is now nothing short of the foundation that holds you. What you have said no to is nothing short of having helped you self-actualize. Your current form is no mistake. What you have been able to define for yourself, what you have been able to bring into form, what you have been able to make real needs to be honored. Bless the efforts you have made. Make sure that you keep yourself on the same kind of growth-enhancing track. Remind yourself that the process of becoming is a daunting one, but one that is never-ending in its gifts.
Your secret life is one to protect. Honor. Accept as it is. Your experience of this part of yourself is incredibly important. The insights that it brings to light. The long-lost information that it helps to resurface. The long-forgotten realities that drive you in one direction or another.
The shadow self holds incredible power.
Over the next month you are likely to experience this power. The parts of yourself that you either haven’t ever been aware of or parts of yourself that you haven’t bumped into in a while will make themselves known. These introductions come bearing gifts of self-knowledge and affirmation, but they might appear more monstrous than friendly at first.
As humans we tend to project our greatest fears onto whatever is a convenient target. Instead of buying into feelings of fear, shame or blame, take note if there is another way to move with the feelings that come up from moment to moment. Get very curious about what you might be projecting outwards that can only be resolved inwardly. Stay with what you are experiencing and keep asking how you might address it with more awareness, compassion and perception.
Spend some time clarifying what dreams you are directing your energy towards. What goals of common good are you applying your talents to? What futures are you learning to redefine for yourself?
Your visions for upcoming possibilities have never been conceived by anyone else. They need not be judged by any other standard save their own. They need not be devalued because they have never known the light of day.
They need only know the light of your love, encouragement, effort and appreciation.
Over the coming weeks these visions for the future will be both tested and encouraged. Those around you may misunderstand the potential that your ideas bear. Those around you might dampen some of your optimism. Those around you will provide you with some much needed feedback sparking interesting spin-offs for you to try out. Don’t be dissuaded by those that don’t get it but don’t be too proud to take in the suggestions that are supporting the ultimate growth of what you’ve got going on.
This is a time that, in general, encourages your professional empowerment. Part of the way in which you’ll be supported in this is by learning how to move through what used to stop you. Confuse you. Derail you. Over the past 3 years you’ve been able to develop better boundaries around all of this, but the next month will review their strength and structure, helping you to ultimately be a better accomplice to your wildest dreams.
What part of you needs to be witnessed this week? Understood? Embraced? Given a place? What yearning in your heart needs to be noticed? Acknowledged? Integrated into consciousness?
With the sun, Mercury and Saturn all in Sagittarius and the most elevated area of your chart, some part of yourself wants to be made known. Given a job to do. Pay attention to when you start to crave attention. What part of you is in need of praise? Give it to yourself with as much generosity as you can muster. Give it to yourself with as much encouragement as you can collect. Give it to yourself with as much power as you can access.
Most of us are in constant need of encouraging redirection. Most of us need to be reminded that we are enough, as is. Most of us need to be constantly reconnecting to the possibility that the moment holds, not just the problems that it is revealing.
Find ways to do that in both your personal and professional life over the next few weeks. Keep asking yourself what you most wish to be possible for you professionally and then encourage yourself into taking actions to make it a reality.
Jon Hendricks, a singer, songwriter and lyricist who pioneered vocalese—the art of crafting words to famed jazz solos—and was a co-founder of the vocal group Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, died November 22. He was 96.
Jon died on the same day as producer George Avakian. (See my obit and complete interview with George here.) I interviewed Jon in 2009 for JazzWax. Here is my complete interview with him:
Jon Hendricks’ pure sense of swing, poetic word-play and conversational vocalese remain unmatched. Truth be told, Jon’ s splendid contribution to jazz has never been fully acknowledged or appreciated. Jon not only has written the words to dozens of songs based on famous jazz solos, he also has perfectly captured their infectious intent by singing every nuance of the original instrumentals. Which requires enormous skill, sensitivity and depth. If you wave off Jon’s gifts as nothing more than a vocal magic trick, try this exercise: Grab the lyrics to Cloudburst or Everyday and sing along with the record. Not so simple. Jon can swing, he’s bop hip, and since the early 1950s has been jazz’s impersonator-in-chief, getting saxophone, trombone and trumpet solos up on their hind legs and walking.
Jon’s recording career began in earnest in 1954 on a King Pleasure session that featured vocalese singer Eddie Jefferson and the Three Riffs. In 1955, Jon and the Dave Lambert Singers recorded three tracks. But his big break came in 1957, when a failed recording session led to the formation of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. The group’s first album, Sing a Song of Basie, won a Grammy Award and ignited a fresh vocal concept that was both fun and sophisticated.
JazzWax: Where did you grow up?
Jon Hendricks: I was born in 1921, in a railroad switch town called Newark, Ohio. It was just a hamlet with a dirt road running through it. My father was pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, which served the area. No one was famous there. If you were alive back then in the Depression, you were a celebrity [laughs]. There were 17 of us—14 boys and 3 girls. There was no TV then, so getting along with each other was necessary and easy. You had no choice.
JW: That’s a lot of brothers and sisters.
JH: In number only. There was a lot of love in my family. There also were strict rules of living. In the morning, we had a crowd of children who needed to use the bathroom. So we lined up according to height and age, with the smallest in the front of the line. And it worked. Order always works. You can have a mob, but if they’re ordered, they can break down the strongest wall. Like everyone else in our neighborhood, we had a vegetable garden that helped put food on the table.
JW: Did your family remain in Newark, Ohio?
JH: No. My father could preach better than Peter, so the church moved my father to many different parishes to energize congregations. I went to 13 different schools. The church paid for our relocation, and there was always a parsonage that went with the church, so we always had a house. We had to sleep three to a bed, of course, but we were used to that. That’s good for a family. It forces closeness. [Bishop Richard Allen, founder of the A.M.E. Church]
JW: What did your father do to keep all of you in line?
JH: Nothing. We were just exhorted to love one another. We had no problem with that. The problem came when my father would get all 17 of us downstairs on our knees to pray. We didn’t stand up or sit in a chair or anything like that. We got down on our knees to supplicate to a power that was bigger than us. Every morning he prayed for good and for the safety of all the world. And he exhorted us every morning to know, not to believe, to know that we were alive by the grace of god. He told us that there’s nothing living that we can dislike.
JW: What was the problem?
JH: My father told us that every living thing is our brother and sister. He warned us that outside our front door, nobody believed that. So he said our task was to take that knowledge with us when we went outside, so that we behaved that way whenever we met someone. The problem was the real world didn’t always work that way or respond in turn to kindness and love.
JW: But your father’s message helped you.
JH: Oh yes. My father taught me to fight for the right things, not the wrong ones. My father’s way of looking at life gave all of us a strong humane-ness. Everybody to this day likes my brothers and sisters.
JW: What was your first instrument?
JH: When I was a teen I took up the drums.
JW: What did your father think?
JH: I never knew what he thought. He never imposed anything on us. He told us how he expected us to behave but never said we could only do one thing and not another. He just urged us to be kind. If we were, he said, most men and women would like us and respect us. The problem is he never taught us how to go about doing that, except simply to treat everyone as a brother and sister.
JW: Eventually your family settled in Toledo, Ohio.
JH: Yes. And Art Tatum lived five houses from ours. He was from Toledo, too. When I started to sing as a kid, he accompanied me on the radio. Soon he began calling me for gigs. Can you imagine? Art Tatum calling me to sing with him? When I was 9 years old, I was known as Little Johnny Hendricks and sang at the Rivoli Theater in Toledo. Art was 21 years old.
JW: What was it like to sing with Tatum?
JH: Like singing with the Minneapolis Symphony. I once asked Tatum how had learned to play like that. He said his mother had bought him a piano roll featuring two pianists. Tatum, being blind, didn’t know that. He just listened and learned the piece being played on the roll. It turned out to be two guys playing at once. He had learned to play four hands anyway and didn’t think anything of it [laughs].
JW: When did you first hear bebop?
JH: On the boat coming home from Europe after World War II. I had just won $300 playing craps and was in my bunk reading when I heard someone playing Charlie Parker’s records. His music made complete sense to me because I was already familiar with Art Tatum. When Dizzy [Gillespie] and Bird [Charlie Parker] came on the scene, they were just following Art Tatum. Most people don’t realize that Tatum was the father of bebop.
JW: How so?
JH: In later years, when I asked Bird where he had learned all the things he was playing, he said he had worked as a dishwasher at the Onyx Club on 52nd St. in the early 1940s just to hear Art Tatum play. Then, he said, he went back to Kansas City and learned to play with all the creativity and wisdom and speed of Tatum. And that’s what he did.
JW: What did you do after the transport ship docked in New York?
JH: When I got back in 1946, I moved back home and enrolled at the University of Toledo on the G.I. Bill. I majored in English and minored in history and was studying pre-law. I got all A’s in English—including the only A awarded in creative writing in seven years. My English professor was Milton Marks, who had written a book on creative writing used in all the universities.
JW: Eventually you decided to move to New York. Why? JH: Racism. I had married an Irish girl in Ohio, and we had a son. I had a 3.5 average at the university and was on track for law school. Because of my high academic average, I was to going to be appointed Juvenile State Probation Officer. That would have given me the privilege of socializing with police court and juvenile court judges. They didn’t want that because my wife and I were an interracial couple. But they couldn’t just dismiss me. I had earned the grades I got and the position I was to receive. So they got the guy with next highest grades, a black guy. They told him that if he didn’t convince me to move out of town, they were going to fire him.
JW: What happened?
JH: The guy came over to my house and laid out the situation for me. He said he had a wife and two kids and that they told him to come over to my house and threaten me or he’d lose his job. The guy said to me, “I’m not going to do that. I’m just going to say that if you prevail and stay on your job, they’re going to fire me. I have two kids. But I’m just going leave it with you.” So I decided to leave. Didn’t make much sense staying after that.
JW: Why New York?
JH: Because of Bird. I had sung with him first in Toledo. He came through on a tour in 1949. I scatted with him. Miles had just left the quintet and Kenny Dorham [pictured] replaced him on trumpet. Al Haig took Duke Jordan’s place. I had Bird’s records and had researched everybody in the group. So when I went up to sing with him, I took about eight choruses. Then I started to exit the stage. But I felt this hand on my coattail. Kenny was up taking his solo so his chair was empty. I looked back and saw my coattail was in Bird’s hand. Bird motioned for me to sit in Kenny’s chair.
JW: What happened after the set?
JH: Bird asked me what I wanted to do. I told him I wanted to be a lawyer. Bird said, “You ain’t no lawyer. You’re a jazz singer.” I said, “What can I do with that?” Bird said, “You have to come to New York.” I said, “I don’t know anybody there.” Bird said, “You know me.” I said, “Where will I find you?” Bird said, “Just ask anyone” [laughs]. I left thinking, “This guy’s crazy.”
JW: So you never forgot that invitation.
JH: Right. So two years later, when that guy came to my house and told me to quit and get out of town, I decided I would first go with my wife and son to Canada to live. Racism didn’t seem to exist up there. I had $350 in my pocket. But when we arrived at the border, they wouldn’t let us into the country to emigrate unless we had at least $1,000.
JW: What did you do?
JH: My wife, child and I drove to Buffalo, N.Y. But our car broke down. We went to the bus station and, remembering what Bird had said, bought tickets and took the bus to New York City. When I arrived, I had only my wife and son, and a set of drums.
JW: What did you do when you arrived in New York after leaving Toledo, Ohio?
JH: Right away I called Joe Carroll, Dizzy Gillespie’s singer. I knew Joe because he was with Dizzy when Dizzy offered me a job years earlier, when I was still in school. That’s when Dizzy came to Detroit. I sang with him there. I knew what they were playing at the time because it was what Art Tatum had taught me.
JW: What did Carroll say?
JH: He said to stay at a hotel up at 116th and Broadway near Columbia University that charged $18 a week.
JW: Did you ask Carroll for a job? JH: No. All I asked Joe was, “Where’s Bird?” Joe said “At 125th and 7th Ave., at the Apollo Bar.” So I went uptown to see Bird. When I arrived at the bar, I put my hand on the doorknob but pulled it back. I started to feel silly. I thought, “This cat was doing one-nighters all over the Midwest. He’s not going to remember me." So I started to walk away from the bar, toward my hotel. But soon I stopped. I said to myself, “The only guy who knows what I do is in that place. I have to go in there.”
JW: Did you go back?
JH: Yes. I went back, gritted my teeth and walked in. Roy Haynes was on drums, Curly Russell was on bass, Bud Powell on piano, and Bird and Gerry Mulligan were playing. You had to walk right past the bandstand in that place to get to the tables.
JW: What happened?
JH: Bird stopped playing when he saw me walk by the stand. He shouted out, “Hey Jon, want to come up here and sing something?” It was two years and four months since I had seen him last during that one-nighter in Toledo. And he had remembered me.
JW: Parker had some memory, didn’t he?
JH: Oh, man. Amazing. The guy had a great mind. Back in 1945, the British publisher of Cherokee wouldn’t let Bird record the song because they thought it would be a desecration of the copyright. So Parker played the same chord changes but made up a different melody. Parker told Teddy Reig, the [Savoy Records] producer of the session to call it Ko-Ko. Years later, Teddy asked Bird what Ko-Ko meant. Bird said it was the name of the Lord High Executioner in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Mikado [laughs]. Charlie Parker not only knew the work but the irony of the name and its use for the song. He was an intellectual. Later Bird kept a tape in his luggage of Stravinsky’s Sacre du Printemps. He liked the part where the woman screams [laughs].
JW: Did you go up and sing with Parker and the group?
JH: First I sat down at a table. When they got off the set, the musicians went off in different directions to buy their stuff. Roy didn’t use. He sat with his girl at the bar. Then they all came back. It was the last set.
JW: What did Bird say to you?
JH: He said, “We’ll play a few tunes first and then call you up.” On the third tune, Bird announced, “In Toledo, Ohio, an amazing young cat jumped up on stage and scatted. He happens to be here tonight. Come up, Jon.”
JW: Sounds like a confidence-building introduction.
JH: It was—until Roy Haynes [pictured] said real loud, “No, no, we don’t want no singers, Bird.” Parker said, “Roy, cool it and sit down and play the drums.” I got up with them and sang three numbers, and the house went wild. I’ve always thought of myself as a horn, so that’s what I did. I scatted as though I were another horn in the group. They loved it.
JW: In December 1954, you recorded a track with vocalese pioneer King Pleasure.
JH: King Pleasure [pictured] brought me onto the record date. I had met him uptown at the Turf Bar a week or so earlier. He gave me a sheet of paper with his words to Stan Getz’s solo on Don’t Get Scared, which Stan had recorded in ’51 with his Swedish All-Stars. I said, “I see your words, but where are my words?” King Pleasure said, “You’re a writer. Write your own words.” So I did. That’s why when you listen to the recording, his words sound like a father talking to his son and I’m responding. I came up with that concept after leaving the bar. Quincy [Jones] arranged that session.
JW: You’ve always been a fast thinker and lyric writer.
JH: I write on demand like that. That’s how I wrote the words to Four Brothers around that time. I lived in New York and was on the streets for years before I got famous. I worked first in a newsprint factory. On my lunch break I’d hang out on Broadway in the 50s, where the songwriters were. They’d surround me and say, “Jon, what are you working on?”
JW: What would you tell them?
JH: I’d sing a ditty using my way of putting words together. Soon I’d hear what I sang on the radio a few weeks later. They were stealing my stuff.
JW: You had quite a fast mind.
JH: I did. I took pre-law at the University of Toledo because of my mind. When I was 9 years old I got all A’s in English. I loved books and always was adept at the language. My father always chose me to help him with the text for his Sunday sermons. He’d ask me to copy out text from the bible each week. This made me curious about everything and eager to research whatever I didn’t know. If I’m onto something, I don’t stop until I get to the truth. I do the same thing with my lyrics. I’ve always had a love of words and word combinations. After spending time on the streets and in the clubs of New York in the early 1950s, it all came together.
JW: How did Sing a Song of Basie come about—Lambert, Hendricks & Ross’ first album.
JH: Dave Lambert and I were like brothers. But when we first went in to record that album, Dave brought too many Dave Lambert Singers. They didn’t swing. They were like a commercial choir, without that hip feeling. After a while, it wasn’t working. I told Dave, “We have to get some more African-Americans in here" [laughs]. Dave said, "Well, I guess so." Creed said, “No, no, no more singing. No more mass. I don’t have any more money. Whatever we do, you three have to do it.”
JW: What did you say?
JH: Dave said, "We’ll multitrack." Annie, me and Creed looked at each other and said, "What’s that?" Dave said, "Well, we’ll put three voices on a roll of tape. We’ll do it four times and we’ll have the 12 pieces of the Basie band and that will be it." We already had the rhythm section track recorded.
JW: You guys had never multitracked before, had you?
JH: Nobody had [to that extent with vocals]. And nobody had ever put the lyrics on the back of an album before. I invented that. I said this will let the listeners follow along. It will be better than some disc jockey writing about how great or not great the album is.
JW: So Creed saw the genius of that right away?
JW: So did you write all your parts?
JH: I can’t write music. I can’t read music. I just sing music. Dave did all the writing.
JW: How did you sing all the parts without reading music?
JH: Dave gave me the tapes of the Basie parts and I learned them. I learn very fast.
JW: So in the tape, you could hear what each saxophone was playing through the band?
JH: Well, Dave isolated all the different parts on one tape. He’d just take off the different parts he needed right from the recording. Instead of the whole band, you’d hear just one saxophone—the first alto and the second alto, the first tenor and the baritone, one after the next. Annie had the same thing but with the trumpets, and Dave had the trombones.
JW: So you’d learn the four parts. You’d put down the lead track first and then come back and sing the other harmonizing saxes until all four parts were recorded. What an amazing invention.
JH: It was. I don’t even know the right word to describe it. It was god at work.
JW: If any one of you couldn’t pull that off, you would have been in trouble.
JH: Well, Annie had already recorded the way we sang. Twisted was out already. She was singing vocalese before Dave and I did.
JW: But not the multitracking.
JH: No. But that’s not a creative process. That’s just a creative use of electricity [laughs].
JW: But it was still tricky to pull off.
JH: Well, I guess so. But for us it was so easy, it’s hard to see the difficulty in that now.
JW: What happened next?
JH: We recorded the tracks over the next month and a half. But when Dave put all the tracks together and we came in to hear it, the master was a mess. [Jon imitates the sound of the distorted voices on the tape]. When assembling all the parts onto one master tape, we had put the least-heard voices—the alto, the second trombone and the baritone parts—on top. And the others next. So it was inaudible. There was no blended order to the parts. We should have recorded each section separately and then brought them together by modulating the sections by the dials.
JW: Did you three flip out?
JH: We were a little stunned. Creed [pictured] started moaning, “Oh god, I’m going to lose my job.” He was in tears. Creed was such a sweet cat. We all loved him. So Dave said, “Give us another month and a half. What time do you close?" Creed said, "At 8 [p.m.]. Dave said, "We’ll be in here at 8:15 p.m. What time do you open?" Creed said, "At 7 [a.m.]." Dave says, "We’ll leave at 6:45. Just give us the time." Creed said, "I won’t be able to come up with any more money." Dave waved him off, saying, "We don’t need the money. Just give us the time and we’ll come in and do this right.”
JW: What did you three do?
JH: We came in and re-recorded everything at night, the way it should have been done in the first place. And when we heard the master the next time around, all four of us sat down and cried like babies. You could hear instantly how good it was. And to this minute, till right now, I can truthfully say that it’s the best vocal album I have ever heard in my entire life.
JW: It can’t be duplicated, that’s for sure.
JH: Nope. Annie and I will be brother and sister for the rest of our lives. Dave, too, bless his heart.
JW: So you worked through the night, every day for a month and a half?
JH: That’s right [pause]. What else did we have to do? [roaring laughter]. Those were good days.
Hi friends! Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate.
I’m so grateful to all of you who share your experiences and insights on the blog, and to those who you who give your time and energy to help others in the comments and community forums. And I am endlessly inspired by your openness, your empathy, and your kindness.
To celebrate this day, I gathered some of my favorite gratitude quotes (mostly from anonymous sources), and I’ve also put aside two copies of Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal for a special giveaway.
About the Journal
Including questions and prompts pertaining to both your past and present, the journal will help you see your life through a new, more positive lens.
The book also includes fifteen coloring pages, depicting awesome things we often take for granted, like nature and music.
With space for written reflection, these pages provide all the benefits of coloring—including mindfulness and stress relief—and also guide you to recognize the beauty in the ordinary.
Whether you’ve been gratitude journaling for years or you’re just giving it a try for the first time, Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journalwill help you access a state of inner peace, contentment, and joy.
For a second entry, share this post on one of your social media pages and include the link in a second comment.
You can enter until midnight, PST, on Thursday, November 30th.
If you’ve already received your copy, I would appreciate if you’d leave a review on Amazon here. It doesn’t need to be long—even a tiny review can make a big difference.
Yes, that last one is my own quote, so it’s probably kind of odd to include it in a list of my favorites. But I wanted to add this one in case you’re going through a tough time right now and not feeling all that grateful. Be good to yourself. Take care of yourself. And know that you are loved and appreciated.