Singin' it, Scattin' it, and Swingin' it, in their own way
Since the beginning of the jazz genre, vocalists have played their part in developing the repertoire. Whether In collaboration with jazz instrumentalists or singing a cappella, jazz vocalists have pushed the genre to new boundaries, surprising us with their phrasing, melodic or harmonic interpretations, and delighting and entertaining us with their unique vocal scat solos. There is no one-size-fits-all here. While you may have heard these songs before, you are certain to enjoy discovering a different vocal take on your favorites. You're also likely to hear a few songs and voices you've never heard before. The Contemporary Vocal Jazz Channel on Stingray Music celebrates jazz vocalists from around the world, who are active in today's jazz scene.
"Don't Worry Be Happy" may be the song that he is most well known for, but Bobby McFerrin has given the world of vocal jazz a distinguished legacy of vocal music. Whether singing solo, in a duet or jazz ensemble, or with his Voicestra vocal ensemble, McFerrin is a delight to listen to and watch perform. He surprises us with every vocal expression that he creates and moves us with every beat that he taps or claps out. A true master of vocal music, he continues to tour, generously offering us pure, authentic, playful, improvised musical performances.
Sheila Jordan started singing in the 40s and is still going strong today. Influenced by instrumentalists, Jordan fell under the musical bebop spell of Charlie Parker, absorbing everything he could teach her. Known by musicians as a singer with good ears, Jordan phrases lyrics, bends and scoops notes, sings rhythms as a musician, all with the vocal dexterity of a master.
Jordan has played with the who's who of jazz history: Charlie Parker, Charles Mingus, Steve Kuhn, Steve Swallow, Cameron Brown and many more. With more than 20 albums to her name, she's also sat in on multiple recordings for other jazz legends like George Russell and Carla Bley.
Sheila Jordan, who turns 90 in November, continues to perform and to share her knowledge by teaching and inspiring jazz singers around the world, with the playfulness and exuberance of a child.
He scats, he swings, he sings: Kurt Elling does, year after year, performing more than 200 gigs a year to audiences around the world. His beautiful, resonant voice has adorned 13 albums, earned him 12 Grammy nominations, with one Grammy win for Best Jazz Vocal Album "Dedicated To You: Kurt Elling Sing The Music of Coltrane and Hartman". Whether he's singing a standard, pop or folk song, he owns and commands the song, playing it his way and making it new again. Offering his suave caring voice, rhythmic sensitivity and dynamics, the debonair Elling finds a way to personally express the song's meaning, with such an apparent ease. Kurt Elling is the quintessential jazz singer.
Cecile McLorin Salvant
First prize winner of the 2010 Thelonius Monk International Jazz Competition, Cecile McLorin Salvant lept into the jazz scene without hesitation, releasing 3 albums within 5 years. "Woman Child", was nominated for Best Vocal Jazz Album at the 2014 Grammy Awards, while her 3rd and 4th albums, "For One To Love" and "Dreams and Daggers" both won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Jazz Album, in 2016 and 2018 respectively. That's two Grammy Awards before the age of 30, and very much merited. With her astute attention to the lyric, careful choice of phrasing and melodic embellishment, she plays the songs in true storyteller fashion, captivating and entertaining us with every note and word she sings.
The 23-year-old British singer Jacob Collier arrived on the jazz scene in true 21st-century style: via YouTube videos that went viral. Collier's sense of harmony and rhythm are out of this world. His debut album, entitled, "In My Room", was made completely by Collier: he recorded it, he arranged it, he performed all of the vocals and instrumentation, in his room. His arrangements of "Flintstones" and "You And I" from the album won him two Grammys: Best Arrangement: Instruments and Vocals ("Flintstones") and Best Arrangement: Instruments or A Cappella ("You And I"). His musical talent is not restricted to his room, he performs live, alone on stage with his multiple instruments and vocal looping machines that he controls jumping from one to another to keep the song going, all while maintaining harmonic and rhythmic perfection. Nothing short of amazing to listen to and behold. His future is bright.
These are only 5 of many wonderful vocalists with songs included in the Contemporary Jazz Vocal Jazz Channel. Tune in to the channel to discover the breadth of today's vocal jazz scene.