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Sound Ideas #13 - Celebration of Song
Welcome to a celebration of song! This is an hour of singers, songs, and swing; an exploration of the human voice. In this episode we hear the many approaches that jazz affords the human instrument.
Artist Track Album
Eddie Jefferson Filthy McNasty Body and Soul
Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross Home Cookin' Everybody's Boppin'
The Manhattan Transfer Down South Camp Meeting Swing
Rare Silk Joy New Weave
Jane Monheit Caminhos Cruzados Surrender
Karrin Allyson West Coast Blues In Blue
Patricia Barber Nardis Cafe Blue
Ray Charles Then We'll be Home Renaissance
Joe Williams Early in the Morning Me and the Blues
Harry Connick Jr. Let's Call the Whole Thing Off When Harry Met Sally
Eddie Jefferson So What Body and Soul

Jazz singing is not limited to single style or approach and even within a given style there are many factors that make almost every performer unique. Eddie Jefferson was a pioneer in the field of vocalese, that is putting lyrics to previously recorded improvised solos. While also a competent scat singer and able melodist, Eddie's vocal swagger helped to defined this tradition that we still hear today.

Our second set explore vocal ensembles beginning with the indispensible vocalese trio of Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks, and Annie Ross. Their early albums tackled big band as well hard performances with ease yet they rarely performed with more than a piano trio backing them up. The largess of their sound set a standard for decades to come. Even years after their disbanding, Jon Hendricks remains a vocalese standard bearer. The Manhattan Transfer and Rare Silk are two vocal ensembles that helped drive the vocal sounds of the 1970s and 1980s respectively.

A trio of female soloists from the bumper decades of the new millennium comprises out third set. Each have brought their own interpretations of a variety of material, and each maintains a unique vocal sound. In the case of Karin and Patricia, they are also skilled pianists, which undoubtedly adds to their own special investigation and reciting of jazz prose.

In the early days of jazz singers the backup was often a large ensemble and we begin our last set with two of the best big band singers of the latter 20th century, Ray Charles, and Joe Williams. Harry Connick Jr. did a lot to drive a resurgent interest in jazz, jazz singers, and big bands in the late 1980s and 1990s. In this rendition of the Gershwin classic, Harry's big band plays a vocal only part, which is a departure for this otherwise all big band soundtrack.

We close again with the master of modern jazz singing with his take on Miles Davis' forward looking, dare I say revolutionary, modal masterpiece, So What.

Each of these performances bear witness to the near endless creativity that jazz affords the instrumentalist, even when that instrument is one in the same as its player. While there are many styles we did not cover during this hour, this sampling illustrates there is no one stereotype of the "jazz singer". Rather as with jazz overall, the palette is almost endless and the canvas stretches as far as the mind can imagine.