To hear Michele Hendricks tell it, the singing style known as vocalese -- the recasting of jazz instrumental solos in lyrics -- is a snap. No wonder, considering she was singing triple-tongued trumpet parts at the age of 8 and, at 15, had joined her father's group for tours abroad. Especially no wonder when that father is Jon Hendricks and Michele grew up hearing the strains of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross. Michele Hendricks is out on her own now and will open Tuesday for three weeks at Cates. Her accompanist will be pianist David Leonhardt.
"It's very important to just listen to the instrumentals as closely as possible," Hendricks says. "Not so much for the exact notes that they're playing but just to get the kind of tone and timbre and feel, to think as if you are an instrument." She uses some of the materials handed down through the several generations of her father's groups, like his "Doodlin' " and Annie Ross' "Twisted," and she is now writing her own arrangements of contemporary songs, Carole King's "I Feel the Earth Move" being a recent addition to her repertoire.
Look for Hendricks in a variety of animal roles in an upcoming off-Broadway musical entitled "Mowgli" (based on Kipling's "The Jungle Book"). Her favorite part is that of a monkey, confesses Hendricks. "I guess jumping up and down and running around and acting like an idiot appeals to me."