One of the unanswered questions posed by the death of Jimi Hendrix, 35 years ago next month, is what effect he might have had on jazz had he lived. That he had an effect - good or bad - is evident. Hendrix died just as jazz-rock fusion was getting going, and it's obvious listening to the music of its progenitors that they had all listened hard to him. Hendrixisms are all over the music of the period. Fusion's founding father Miles Davis applied a wah-wah pedal to his trumpet and adopted several Hendrix motifs in his own improvisations. Mademoiselle Mabry on Filles de Kilimanjaro is based on a Hendrix riff from The Wind Cries Mary. John McLaughlin's early 1970s guitar playing is heavily indebted to him, and although there's a chicken and egg question about Sonny Sharrock, nobody during that period was playing in a vacuum, and it's possible to argue that Hendrix took the use of guitar-generated noise as a legitimate musical device further than his self-consciously avant-garde jazz counterpart. Lip service to the guitarist at the height of his fame and shortly after his death could be easily dismissed as commercial opportunism. Praise for Hendrix from jazz musicians, however, has been steadily unstinting. 'Hendrix was one of my idols,' said soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, who died last year. 'He was one of the gods, and that's the only name that'll go because he played like nobody's business. Hendrix was beyond all the categories.' This from the man who inspired John Coltrane to take up the soprano saxophone. Bassist Jaco Pastorius paid tribute to Hendrix nightly with Weather Report, building Third Stone from the Sun from Are You Experienced? into his show-stopping solo feature. Pat Metheny, with his own debt to Hendrix's extraordinary explorations of the electric guitar's sonic palette, paid his own tribute in 1993: he recycled some of the late bass player's solo improvisation on a loop, used in an inventive instrumental reinterpretation of Third Stone on a 'various artists tribute to Hendrix' album called Stone Free. I've been pondering this in the light of a more recent tribute album, passed to me as a trailer for a concert by Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le, who's coming to town next month. Le is a world-jazz musician whose music explores not only his Vietnamese roots, but also other musical cultures, rather in the manner of Bill Frisell. Purple, released in 2002 and available here from Jazz World in Melbourne Plaza, along with Le's latest, Walking on the Tiger's Tail, is an interestingly off-the-wall look at a mixture of Hendrix's jazzier pieces and some of his better known tunes viewed through a prism of 21st-century jazz rock. It's good stuff, with a fine band, including drummer percussionist Terri Lyne Carrington, who also takes care of some of the generally superfluous vocals. Third Stone is here again, along with Up From the Skies, 1983 ... (A Merman I Should Turn to be) and South Saturn Delta. The jazz elements of those tunes are obvious, while those of Voodoo Chile (Slight Return), Purple Haze and Burning of the Midnight Lamp are less so, but the band manage to make something of most of the tracks. Bearing in mind Le's Vietnamese background, Hendrix's deconstruction of The Star-Spangled Bannner would have been too obvious a choice, but I can't help feeling that his greatest anti-war protest, Machine Gun, might have given the band something more substantial to get their teeth into than Manic Depression or If Six Was Nine. The most poignant tribute to Hendrix from a jazzman, however, was paid by arranger Gil Evans, best known for his orchestrations for Davis on Miles Ahead, Sketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess. When Hendrix died in September 1970 his next big project was to have been a live album, to be recorded at Carnegie Hall, as the featured soloist with the Gil Evans Orchestra, playing Evans' arrangements of his songs. He never made the rehearsals. The arrangements finally came out in 1974 on an album called the Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix. But the best known of Evans' arrangements is probably a version of Little Wing, recorded with Sting as lead vocalist and included on his 1988 Nothing Like the Sun album. Had Hendrix made those rehearsals, it's possible jazz would have assimilated his influence in a less noisy way than the fusion bands of the early 70s did, and that Hendrix, who seemed stuck in a musical cul-de-sac at the time, might have had fresh inspiration breathed into his work. Sadly, we'll never know.