Vocal Jazz

Jazz music community with review and forums

Probably the easiest genre to define of all as the title says it best. Obviously here is where you will find vocalists who sing in a distictive jazz style, or styles I should say because although there is a similarity of delivery in the jazz nuances of these listed singers, the performing era and genre style of singers you will find here ranges from Billy Holliday to Doris Day and on to Norah Jones.

vocal jazz top albums

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FRANK SINATRA Watertown Album Cover Watertown
FRANK SINATRA
4.91 | 4 ratings
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DIANA KRALL The Girl in the Other Room Album Cover The Girl in the Other Room
DIANA KRALL
5.00 | 2 ratings
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ROBERTA FLACK First Take Album Cover First Take
ROBERTA FLACK
5.00 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra) Album Cover Come Dance With Me! (with Billy May And His Orchestra)
FRANK SINATRA
4.63 | 7 ratings
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BOBBY MCFERRIN The Voice Album Cover The Voice
BOBBY MCFERRIN
4.75 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA My Way Album Cover My Way
FRANK SINATRA
4.56 | 5 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA A Swingin' Affair! Album Cover A Swingin' Affair!
FRANK SINATRA
4.58 | 3 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA It Might As Well Be Swing Album Cover It Might As Well Be Swing
FRANK SINATRA
4.67 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Fly With Me Album Cover Come Fly With Me
FRANK SINATRA
4.48 | 5 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Swing With Me! Album Cover Come Swing With Me!
FRANK SINATRA
4.52 | 3 ratings
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NORAH JONES Come Away With Me Album Cover Come Away With Me
NORAH JONES
4.40 | 6 ratings
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PEGGY LEE (VOCALS) Black Coffee With Peggy Lee Album Cover Black Coffee With Peggy Lee
PEGGY LEE (VOCALS)
4.50 | 2 ratings
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vocal jazz Music Reviews

BETTY BRYANT Project 88

Album · 2019 · Vocal Jazz
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js
As jazz history continues to grow, more than likely there will be those who will point to the emergence of college level jazz education as one of the more defining characteristics that has come to differentiate early jazz from modern jazz. Certainly the music has changed, but even more so, the atmosphere and attitude of jazz has changed considerably. Jazz used to be a music for outsiders who existed within, or very near, the criminal world. It was music for terminal hipsters who scoffed at the squares and their law abiding mundane existence. My how times have changed, these days squares are studying altered chords and metric modulation at Berklee while taking sax lessons from a major NYC star via skype along side their internet bros in Europe who are working on government grants to keep their free jazz quartet afloat. If all this collegiate endeavor leaves you a little thirsty for some soul, then you can take solace in knowing that there are still a few hep cats around who still have that ‘attitude’, that thing that Dizzy personified, that thing called cool.

“Project 88” is the title of Betty Bryant’s new CD, and the 88 refers not only to the 88 keys on her piano, but also to the fact that she just turned 88. Betty’s career in jazz goes back to the aforementioned ‘bad’ ole days, and it shows in very good ways. Its in her relaxed vocal delivery, her clever lyrics and her bluesy piano riffs, this is a woman who gets cool in every sense of the word, and she knows how to convey this attractive point of view to us squares who want just a bit of her hipness to rub off. “Project 88” sets off an atmosphere that can not be faked and is becoming rarer by the day.

Betty presents a mix of originals and standards on here. The prevalent style is bluesy swing, but there is a bit of soul jazz and a couple Latin numbers too. She sings on almost every one, but also includes a few instrumentals so as to showcase her signature piano skills that reflect her Kansas City background and Count Basie influence. The make-up of her band varies per track, but possibly the best treat is a couple of songs recorded with a mini big band ensemble.

RACHEL CASWELL We’re All in The Dance

Album · 2018 · Vocal Jazz
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kev rowland
As soon as this album starts, with a delicate and moving rendition of Sting’s “Fragile” (from his 1987 album ‘…Nothing Like The Sun’), one knows that this is going to be something quite special indeed. Rachel is a classic jazz singer, with a voice that is velvet and powerful, as happy providing scat as she is just rolling around the lyrics. Guitarist Dave Stryker has provided all the arrangements and also produced the album, and he has kept her voice very much to the fore and often takes a back seat himself so that Rachel is often just accompanied by drum, bass and piano. Rachel’s sister, violinist Sara Caswell, also adds her talent to proceedings but only on three songs.

Recorded in just one day in May, this really has the feeling of a jazz singer in total control at all times, bringing in a warmth and dexterity with her voice that is a total delight throughout. Jazz singing rarely gets any better than this, and one can imagine her in a New York club holding the audience in the palm of her hand. The title song, originally by Feist, is taken away from the original and moved into something that is a soft jazz classic. This is a truly wonderful album, one which shows off Rachel’s voice and talents, and is a delight from start to end.

WILLIE NELSON My Way

Album · 2018 · Vocal Jazz
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Matt
This time Willie Nelson is doing Sinatra for his latest “My Way” who has always been of his favourites and is the second album for the prolific octogenarian this year. Buddy Cannon is back again but only co-producing this one with Matt Rollings who also in addition contributes piano, wurlitzer, B-3 organ, horn arrangements and string arrangements being almost identical in input for Willie’s last album of a similar nature in 2016, “Summertime, Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin” and there is also another of Gershwin’s numbers included for this album. Only one guest is included being Norah Jones who these days makes fairly regular appearances with him appearing on the Live album with Wynton Marsalis “Here We Go Again” in 2011 and also popping up on his 2013 release of duets “To All The Girls”. Micky Raphael on harmonica is the only band member from his prior album for this year “Last Man Standing” to cross over for this one. One other interesting note is Jay Bellerose is the Jazz drummer who has appeared with so many of today’s artists including Allen Toussaint, Natalie Cole, Madeline Peyroux, Elton John, Joe Henry, Aimee Mann, Bonnie Rait, Sam Philips and that just names a few.

What else would one start with for a Sinatra album but “Fly Me To The Moon’ with the perquisite Swing injection and still keeping in touch with his Country background having Steel guitar in amongst the horns, with a quick solo also added from it in this lively swinger. Mickey’s harmonica leads for the next two Johnny Mercer tunes, “Summer Wind” and “One More For My Baby ( And One More For The Road)” all delivered with Willie’s great casual vocal approach. A lively swinging take for “A Foggy Day” with horns and that harmonica once again right amongst it all and then a lovely take with Strings to follow for the ballad “It Was A Very Good Year” . More Classic Sinatra Swing with Rodgers and Hart’s “Blue Moon” and back for another classic ballad “I’ll Be Around” followed by the swinging Cole Porter composition “Night And Day”. Cole Porter follows again for the lovely duet with Norah Jones in “What Is This Thing Called Love” with another of Sinatra’s classic ballads “Young At Heart” to bring us up the final track and title song being Sinatra’s most famous “My Way” with a beautiful interpretation from Willie adding a little of his own touch with Mickey’s harmonica adding pathos to the vocal.

How many albums has he done resurrecting the old numbers and there really is no other artist today who matches his experience with them. There has been a couple of misses with him doing this material in the past but more so due to oversupply if anything but not here. It is always hard to follow your first great one being “Stardust” but he sure comes close with this and always Willie keeps just a slight Country connection making them all his own. Once again beautiful stuff from the master.

VAN MORRISON Van Morrison And Joey DeFrancesco ‎: You're Driving Me Crazy

Album · 2018 · Vocal Jazz
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Matt
Van Morrison has teamed up with organist and trumpeter Joey DeFrancesco and his band for his latest offering making this, his 39th album “Your Driving Me Crazy” with quite a few of the songs included from his extensive back catalogue and some Standards thrown in for good measure. Jazz is the theme for this latest album as the previous “Versatile” was and as we all know Van has covered just about every mainstream genre of music throughout his career including Rock, Blues, Country, Celtic and Folk thrown in for good measure and this could be one of the main reasons for his durability maintaining his popularity by keeping the variety coming. Joey DeFrancesco has been around for a while as well since 1989 with his first Hard Bop release “All Of Me” and since has garnered quite a bit of acclaim with plenty of albums since and has pretty much been playing music since he first started at four years of age.

The Cole Porter song “Miss Otis Regrets” get things started with more of a leaning towards the slower take that Ella Fitzgerald used with Joey DeFrancesco on organ and trumpet for this relaxed opening number. “Hold It Right There” is perhaps not a Jazz standard but more towards Jump Blues that Joe Williams and Eddie (Cleanhead) Vinson had previously released with Van giving it a bit of his own touch with the addition of great little sax solo from Troy Roberts from Joey’s band inserted. “All Saints Day” originally came out Van’s 1991 album “Hymns To The Silence” and like that one both takes are organ based. “The Way Young Lovers Do” from “Astral Weeks” is quite a different feel to the original being mainly guitar backed with this more Jazzed up with the Joey’s organ right behind Van. The title ‘”Your Driving Me Crazy” was originally done by Guy Lombardo with a later take from Sinatra but Van’s version seems to be his own with quite a lovely take for this old song. “Close Enough For Jazz” Van has already recorded twice prior but with the songs construction why not as it just sits beautifully with album’s theme. There is another go at “Have I Told You Lately” originally appearing on “Avalon Sunset” with other back catalogue numbers “Goldfish Bowl”, “Evening Shadows”, “Magic Time” and a few more Standards with the album finishing up lovely little take of “Celtic Swing” originally from the album “Inarticulate Speech Of The Heart”

Nice little album with some great vibes and vocals but perhaps some new material might have helped but still even with that moan it is quite a nice little groover to have on.

DAVE TULL Texting and Driving

Album · 2018 · Vocal Jazz
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js
One of the big differences between the world of pop vocals and jazz vocals is that while the pop artist tends to use his voice to express his own thoughts and feelings, the jazz artist quite often applies their voice to a ‘standard’ composed by someone else, and for good reason as many of these standards are of a high standard and it is hard for almost any vocalist to come up with something of similar caliber that is original. Up and coming jazz crooner Dave Tull, looks to be one to break that stereotype as his new album, “Texting and Driving”, is all original material that holds up well against any of the known standards.

Dave’s specialty is witty lyrics and this album is full of future classics that often contain ‘laugh-out-loud’ insights that will have you spinning these tunes over and over. The album’s title track is a good example as Dave lampoons the self-absorbed phone obsessive who feels compelled to share every moment of their life with the world. Tull has a wonderfully rapid diction and his witticisms come spilling out at a dizzying pace which only adds to the overall hilarity. Other gems include songs about modern parents who don’t mind their kids and conversations with people whose name you can’t seem to recall. On “The Date”, Tull shares the mic with Cheryl Bentyne as their enter-twining voices reveal conflicting opinions about a first date. Dave is a funny guy, but never glib or overly silly, fortunately this is not Al Yankovitch territory. Dave also doesn’t mind changing things up now and again with a true tale of romance, or a song dedicated to his own children.

Dave is often backed on here by a powerhouse big band, and just like the best albums by Sinatra and Oliver Nelson, nothing comps jazz vocals as well as a big band does. Dave is also an in demand drummer for many artists, and he mans the skins on this album too. I’m not sure if he was singing and playing at the same time on here, but that would be quite the impressive fete if he did.

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JONI MITCHELL Shadows And Light

Movie · 1980 · Vocal Jazz
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Slartibartfast
Joni Mitchell meets The Pat Metheny Group.

What can I say? This was my real introduction into the music of Joni and what a place to start! She had really entered a new phase and the tracks offered span from Court And Spark up to Mingus (and of course, the song Shadows And Light, exclusive to the live album).

The concert was an outdoors affair at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. The liner notes say that "this concert catches Joni at the height of her artistic excellence." Having explored her albums after and before this era, I can wholeheartedly agree with that. Jaco Pastorius, who had a reputation at that point of being erratic in live situations, seems to be in a good mode. The camera work is good and the concert is now available on DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio all of which make for a show worthy of revisiting from time to time.

Artists with Vocal Jazz release(s)

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