|Jon Hendricks and Pete Churchill in New York preparing lyrics|
This is one of those projects which has been a long time in the making. The premiere of Jon Hendricks’ lyricisation of the Miles Davis/Gil Evans album, MILES AHEAD – which will take place at St Peter’s Church (the Jazz Church), Manhattan, on Friday 17 February, at 7pm – marks the final fruition of an idea first conceived by Hendricks fifty years ago.
It will be performed by the London Vocal Project with Pete Churchill (director) Michele Hendricks, Kevin Burke and Anita Wardell (vocal soloists), Dave Whitford (bass) and Steve Brown (drums). The 95 year old Hendricks will be at the premiere. The London premiere will be in Kings Place Hall One on Sunday 21st May (details)
|LVP Singers L-R: Hannah Berry, Helen Burnett, Flora Medlicott, Chloe Potter
Sophie Smith, Miriam Ast (back row), Richard Lake, Lilli Unwin (back row)
Pete Churchill confirms “it has been a long haul.” He first corresponded with Jon Hendricks and met him to discuss the idea in 2010. From one of those first meetings came this email setting the tone of the project, addressed to the members of LVP: “
This brings us to as many members of your choir who can sing them according to established standards; each word written to fit a note of music in Gil’s brilliant score All of which tell a story based on the title of each song, and, of course, I want you involved. First thing is that each singer must have a copy of this album, to which they should listen first thing each morning and the last thing each night until the performance. No other way will they be able to keep pace with the endless subtleties and nuances the work is fraught with. Remember, Gil’s guru was Duke and both were self-taught. So fasten your seat belts. Here we go!”
Churchill’s conscientious work with Hendricks to take the words Hendricks had already conceived and written down or remembered, and to expand them to the point where Hendricks’ original ambition – to have full words to the whole album – is complete, has taken several visits. The first partial performance, of three numbers, took place at Ronnie Scott’s in June 2014. Mike Collins reviewed it.
An ambitious undertaking like this needs supporters. The members of the London Vocal Project themselves provided the original funds for Churchill to spend the time in New York working daily with Hendricks, the Hendricks family have been highly supportive, and the premiere has been thanks to the generosity of Quincy Jones (Executive Producer) and the Jazz Foundation of America.