16 nov. 2006

Here are my favorite singers of jazz, in no particular order of preference. I can't rank them really. Did I do this before? If I did I apologize:

Dinah Washington. She's like Billie Holiday but with a stronger voice. Very bluesy even in her more popular facets. Check out "Dinah Jams."

Ray Charles. I know he isn't a "jazz singer" per se. It doesn't really matter to me. Make your own list if you don't like it,

Billie Holiday. That's pretty obvious. She is simply one of the great jazz musicians period.

Armstrong. Yes, I know he can be quite awful. I can't stand to hear "Hello Dolly" or "Mack the Knife." You have to go back to the early days to find better stuff by him. How about the duets with Ella? You can't beat those.

Nat King Cole. Ok. That's an interesting one. He is obviously a jazz musician, but is he a jazz singer? Or does his singing represent a turn away from jazz? I love his voice and his phrasing. He inspired the early Ray Charles, even. He is "jazz" even when he is not "jazz."

Ella Fitzgerald. Another obvious one. Get away from the novelty numbers and into the song books.

Billy Eckstine. The male Sarah Vaughn? You got to give him his due.

Sarah Vaughn. I love that over-the-top quality to her performances. There is the sheer power and range of her voice, but I prefer her when she is the most "swinging." I hated her "Send in the Clowns," maybe because I hate all of Sondheim's music.

Sinatra. Ok. Sinatra could be awful too, when he became his mannerisms. A lot of singers do that. I like him best with those Nelson Riddle string arrangements. Sweet.

Antonio Benedetti. Tony Bennett is the purest jazz singer among the Italian crooners. He has his mannerisms too. If you like those mannerisms you will like him.

Shirley Horn. Not for nothing was she Miles Davis' favorite singer.

Bessie Smith. This was jazz singing before there was jazz. It's the original source--or one of them at least.

This is a tricky category because it merges into plain old "pop" singing at a certain point--at one end--and into rhythm and blues at the other end. It's interesting that there are more pure jazz singers among the women, and more cross-overs among the men. Ella, Sarah, and Dinah are "jazzier" in the generic sense than Frank, Ray Chas., the later Armstrong, or Nat Cole--or even Mel Tormé, who doesn't make my list.

11 comentarios:

Anónimo dijo...

I'm with you on Sarah
and Billy E

How about Abby Lincoln
or Dianne Reeves?

The Word-Drum

Anónimo dijo...

I forgot to say Ray and Billy are
like the sky and the ground we walk

Herb Levy dijo...

Interesting that of the lists of jazz performers you've done so far (I think this is the fourth after piano, bass and drums, right?), your of singers seems the most old-fashioned, with no one who was at their peak past the 1960s or so.

Based on what I know of your taste, I'd recommend you listen to some Betty Carter. Like the other women you cite, Carter's "jazzier" than many of the men you have on your list (most of whom I don't care about one way or the other). She'd certainly be on my own list of singers before several of the folks you included, but that's just opinion.

In some ways at least, Betty Carter may be "jazzier" than almost any other singer. She was incredible live; of the recordings that I think are available now, I'd recommend the Audience with Betty Carter and/or I'm Yours, You're Mine; but most of discs from the 1960s and 70s with her own small groups are worth hearing.

Jonathan dijo...

I do like Betty Carter. I don't know why I forgot her on the list. There's another good one of that generation whose name is at the tip of my tongue.

Diane Reeves is good too.

Abby Lincoln, on the other hand, is one I can't stand.

Bob dijo...

Abby Lincoln seems always flat.

Bob dijo...

Once you realize Lady Day gets her phrasing from Louis Armstrong's singing, it's hard to hear either one the same way again.

Anónimo dijo...

How about Joe Williams?

Matthew Thorburn dijo...

Do you like Johnny Hartman? I'd have guessed his album with Coltrane would be in your collection.

I heard Shirley Horn here at Iridium a few years ago. She wasn't able to play the piano, but her singing was/is something else.

Jonathan dijo...

He has a nice voice, but I don't like him that much. The songs just sort of sit there, with no forward motion or swing to them.

Joseph Duemer dijo...

Mose Alison. Not to everybody's taste & maybe more blues than jazz, but I like him. "Ain't got Nothin' but the Blues" is pretty fine.

Anónimo dijo...