[JPL] the Passing of a piano legend

richard gangi straightwithchaser at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 4 07:43:43 EDT 2010

The following article was written by Joan Bixbie of Florida Today several months ago. Carl Hendrix passed away yesterday, he will be missed.
Carl Hendrix
Although he plays only the piano today, the trumpet was Carl Hendrix’s first love.  He learned to play the instrument when he was in elementary school. “The horn players were always my heroes,” he says.  “The poor piano player did all of the work and got none of the credit.”  
Hendrix attributes his successful career, first, to Professor Shadley, his high school teacher in Indiana, and second, to the impact of World War II on his life. Both factors led to his playing his first job when he was only 10 years old. It seems Shadley had a Dixieland band, a gig at a County Fair, but no trumpet player.  His regular musician, the town barber, had been drafted. Talented little Carl was enlisted to join the men in the band.  From that point on music became Hendrix’s life focus.
His early talent earned him a place with the “Territory Bands,” dance bands that played at huge (2,000-3,000-person) ballrooms throughout Indiana, Ohio and Illinois in the early ‘40s.  He was picked up repeatedly to play with big bands like Harry James, Horace Heidt and Tiny Hill.  
When Hendrix was 17 the U. S. Army beckoned.  His musical ability landed him “cushy” jobs initially with the First Army Band and later with Seventh Army Special Services.  His 10-year Army career spanned both WW II and the Korean War and he worked with many well known musicians who were also in the Army bands like clarinetist Tony Scott and Herbie Mann, who at that time played the tenor sax.  
 Fortunately for Hendrix he got a lot of practice in on the piano when he become an arranger in 1947 for “Soldier Shows” in Stuttgart, Germany.   Around that time he lost “a couple of front teeth through a mishap in a service club” and his “trumpet playing came to a real halt.”   It was some time before dental work could rectify the situation.  In the meanwhile he stayed with Special Services as a piano player.  
A 1948 jazz festival in Stuttgart provides Hendrix with one of his fondest memories.   The 40-piece Seventh Army Special Services Band participated, having just returned from a tour with Bob Hope, as did Les Brown.  Hendrix says, “All these big bands were there from England – Holland—all over Europe.    I never saw so many big bands.  It was just three days of huge musical groups, you know.  That was fun!” 
Hendrix was discharged soon after his return to the U.S.  He relocated in New York in order to take advantage of the opportunities there to play and go to college.  Armed with not only the GI Bill, but also the Korean Bill, he attended the Manhattan School of Music, playing in New York clubs the entire time he matriculated at the college.  He graduated with both the bachelors and masters degrees in music education.
Cherished memories at Manhattan include interfacing with famous classmates like John LaPorta, alto saxophonist and arranger; and Donald Byrd, trumpeter, and taking workshops from Pablo Cassales and Segovia.  
Following graduation Hendrix settled on Long Island where he taught music in the public school system for 35 years.  He never stopped playing in the clubs of New York City, working with the likes of Johnny Long, Boyd Rayburn, Elliot Lawrence, Lee Castle, and Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey when they were in town.
Betty, his present wife, was a music teacher in the school district in which he taught.  They married in 1988, the year he retired, and spent the winter months in Brevard County.  Three years ago they bought a new home in West Melbourne, convenient to Hendrix’s frequent jobs in Vero and Cocoa Beach. 
            Ron Pirtle, well-know local bassist has played frequently with Hendrix. Pirtle says, “Carl Hendrix is a down-to-earth, beautiful guy who makes us all look like geniuses because he is an encyclopedia of songs and he knows the way to play them.”  Despite Hendrix’s 70-plus years, Pirtle says, “I don’t see any flow-down in his playing.  I’m trying to keep up with him.”

Rich Gangi 

Director of Jazz Programming 
and Host of "Straight with Chaser" 
7-10 pm Wednesdays EST 
also simulcast: www.wfit.org 

89.5 WFIT FM 
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Melbourne, FL 32901 

> Date: Tue, 25 May 2010 17:54:39 -0400
> From: psolomon at ideastations.org
> To: jazzproglist at jazzweek.com
> Subject: [JPL] Sunnyside
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