Vocal Jazz

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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.

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Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 5 min. caching

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
4.91 | 6 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Watertown Album Cover Watertown
FRANK SINATRA
4.91 | 4 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA Come Fly With Me Album Cover Come Fly With Me
FRANK SINATRA
4.83 | 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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BOBBY MCFERRIN The Voice Album Cover The Voice
BOBBY MCFERRIN
4.98 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA It Might As Well Be Swing Album Cover It Might As Well Be Swing
FRANK SINATRA
4.95 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA A Swingin' Affair! Album Cover A Swingin' Affair!
FRANK SINATRA
4.82 | 3 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA My Way Album Cover My Way
FRANK SINATRA
4.82 | 3 ratings
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PAUL MOTIAN Trio 2000 + One On Broadway Vol.4 Or The Paradox Of Continuity Album Cover Trio 2000 + One On Broadway Vol.4 Or The Paradox Of Continuity
PAUL MOTIAN
5.00 | 1 ratings
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HARRY CONNICK JR Come by Me Album Cover Come by Me
HARRY CONNICK JR
5.00 | 1 ratings
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HARRY CONNICK JR Oh, My NOLA  (aka My New Orleans) Album Cover Oh, My NOLA (aka My New Orleans)
HARRY CONNICK JR
5.00 | 1 ratings
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JUNE CHRISTY June's Got Rhythm Album Cover June's Got Rhythm
JUNE CHRISTY
5.00 | 1 ratings
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This list is in progress since the site is new. We invite all logged in members to use the "quick rating" widget (stars bellow album covers) or post full reviews to increase the weight of your rating in the global average value (see FAQ for more details). Enjoy JMA!

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Tenderly
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vocal jazz Music Reviews

DEBORAH SHULMAN My Heart's in the Wind

Album · 2007 · Vocal Jazz
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js
It takes a lot of courage for a vocalist to record an album of all ballads, no other song form puts a vocalist’s skills on the line like a slow moving test of one’s ability to not only develop a melodic line, but to do so with a convincing emotional tone. On “My Heart’s in the Wind”, Deborah Shulman doesn’t shy away from this challenge and delivers a successful collection of mostly quiet and introspective vocal reflections. Only two numbers on here hit any kind of toe-tapping tempo, all the rest are delivered in a vocalist-centered legato rubato with an intuitive laid back combo backing every word. Shulman’s main accompanists on here are Larry Koonse on guitar and Terry Trotter on piano, both of whom support her with imagination and sensitivity. The way the two instrumentalists interact with each other is joyfully loose and even somewhat cluttered in a good way. Its nice the two are not overly polite and sterile in their interactions. Both musicians also deliver a couple of clever solos as well.

Much of Shulman’s emotional conviction comes across in these songs because she hand picked each one as a personal reflection of not only her own life, but also the lives and love of her departed parents. Tracks such as “Loving You” and “You are There” are tributes to her parent’s relationship and the memories of Shulman’s family life. The non-pretentious tone of this album is furthered by the fact that every track was recorded live without a trace of studio trickery. Summit Records in general should be praised for their ongoing commitment to production values that put an artist’s personal skills over studio gimmicks.

The material covered on here is well considered and devoid of anything overplayed. The 'Great American Songbook', Broadway and movies are all sources for Schulman's selections, with a few surprises included, such as "This Hotel", from the film, "Hotel". Top track may be the infectious "Sleepin Bee". This is a great vocal album that sets a mood for those long winter nights that surround us during this time of year.

JOHN HÉBERT Rambling Confessions

Album · 2015 · Vocal Jazz
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snobb
After excellent "Floodstage",released on Portuguese Clean Feed label last year, advanced American bassist John Hébert comes with very different new album on American label. If "Floodstage" was a sophisticated piano trio album (with most interesting modern French pianist Benoît Delbecq and busiest American drummer around Gerald Cleaver),"Rambling Confessions"(Sunnyside Records) is modern avant-garde vocal jazz quartet inspired by vocalist Carmen McRae legacy but doing all things on unorthodox way.

With no doubt,vocalist Jen Shyu is a key figure of this new release. US-born(to Taiwanese and East Timor parents) experimental vocalist, composer, multi-instrumentalist, dancer, and Fulbright scholar becomes an significant artist on modern jazz scene. Few days ago she sung in Paris as Steve Coleman band member and her new solo album will be released next week. Jen combines jazz vocal techniques with South East Asian improvisational singing, classical vocals and experimental wordless vocalize.

For listener unfamiliar with Jen Shyu singing,this music from very first seconds is a new experience (which probably could be compared with Jeanne Lee or Irene Aebi singing even if all three vocalists are very different). All-acoustic instrumental trio works perfectly as singer's minimalist accompanists with a few soloing but it would be great to hear more their musicianship besides of pure vocalist's support - from artists of that level listener expects more, especially on album where bassist,not singer is stated as leader.

Main album's attraction is to listen how inventively Jen reworks jazz standards - often on the very border,but never crossing the thin red line.The only factor why this album isn't a true masterpiece is that that all songs are of same slow to mid-tempo and despite of unique singing manner after some time "sameness" factor hampers to appreciate really great music.

One of the strongest candidate to the best experimental vocal jazz album of the year.

JANET KLEIN Come Into My Parlor

Album · 1998 · Vocal Jazz
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siLLy puPPy
JANET KLEIN was raised in San Bernadino, CA and was mostly exposed to classical music and even some Frank Zappa, but she found her own niche in a totally different world. She decided to take up the ukelele and resurrect the obscure, the lovely and the naughty songs of the 1910s, 20s and 30s. She considers herself a musical archeologist and goes as far as to immerse herself completely in that particular era by adopting a cut bob haircut with a flower placed just so as well as copping only the strictest vintage fashion statements. In fact, if i didn’t know better i’d swear she was the victim of a strange wormhole accident from the past and got transported her almost 100 years later from a cabaret stage in some American hole-in-the-wall speakeasy. Her dedication to the period is admirable as she avoids all the kitsch that can be associated with such novelty acts. In this regard she has done her homework and gets an A+ on her report card for an outstanding resurrection of the forgotten vocal jazz of yestercentury. Only the Squirrel Nut Zippers have achieved such the honor of this scope by keeping it real without making it tawdry.

COME TO MY PARLOR is her debut album that emerged in 1998 when a whole host of swing revival bands were hitting the scene, but JANET KLEIN opted for simplicity on this debut. While she would venture into more of a band setting by adopting “…And Her Parlor Boys” on her second album “Paradise Wobbler,” here it is essential a one-woman show displaying JANET’s knack for playing long forgotten songs on her customized ukelele and sounding like an innocent old-fashioned girl from the Great Depression era of America. On a few songs JANET is accompanied by John Reynolds on guitar who happens to be the grandson of the silent film actress ZaSu Pitts. Overall this is a charming little album with one period song after another and i really like the fragile innocence JANET exhibits on these tracks but i have to admit that i prefer the fuller band sound of the second album a bit more as well as the track selections. The songs are just catchier beginning with “Paradise Wobbler.” Despite all that this is still a nice little debut that will surely catch the hearts of those for a nostalgia for the era from which these tracks have been excavated.

REBECCA DUMAINE & DAVE MILLER TRIO The Consequence of You

Album · 2015 · Vocal Jazz
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js
Quite often, in the world of jazz vocalists, a line can be drawn between those that over do it, and those that don’t. Certainly some of our favorite singers, from Billie Holiday to Chet Baker and Peggy Lee, are singers who keep their ‘cool‘. Rebecca DuMaine doesn’t exactly sound like any of those three, she certainly has a little more exuberance than the often overly subdued Chet, but she definitely falls more in that tradition that doesn’t try to blow you away with vocal theatrics. Even for those who might feel a bit apprehensive about jazz vocals, DuMaine will win you over with her unpretentious and effortlessly swinging and contagiously upbeat approach to some classic, and some lesser known tunes.

DuMaine’s choice of material on here gets into some interesting songs, such as “Beautiful Love”, that have been overlooked by others. Overall the choice of classic standards is good as well, and she somehow manages to breathe new life into the often over-recorded “One Note Samba”. The only song that seems to over do her natural positive vibes is “Put on a Happy Face”, but to her credit, this song probably works better live, as it sounds like she really is behind the lyrics, ha.

Another plus about this CD is that it really comes across like a live jam, all the musicians take expressive solos, pianist Dave Miller (also Rebecca’s father) in particular, shows a lot of inventive energy and humor in his rides. Dave is obviously influenced by elegant pianists like George Shearing and Bill Evans, but his solos also show a mischievous Monk-like influence as well. Whereas a lot of east coast jazz reflects smoky barrooms and bustling crowded streets, this very California sounding jam session sounds more like a sunny Sunday afternoon on an outdoor deck at a club that features some fine local wine. Enjoy!

SUSAN KREBS Simple Gifts

Album · 2015 · Vocal Jazz
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js
Susan Krebs and her Chamber Band definitely get off of the beaten path on their new release, “Simple Gifts”. There is nothing particularly startling or “avant-garde” going on here, but Krebs and her band sound like no one else in today’s jazz world. Krebs is a jazz vocalist with a lengthy background on both of the US coasts, and on this disc she leads a rather unusual quartet made up of percussion, piano, woodwinds and violin. The album opens with a couple jazz standards before veering into something more Latin on “So Many Stars”. The group goes on to show they are no light weights when they tackle the difficult and abstract changes to Steve Swallow’s “Falling Garce”. The final three tracks take on a Middle-Eastern feel as Scott Breadman’s percussion accompaniment takes on a stronger role. The eclectic choice of tunes almost suggests a cabaret type effect, but Krebs and her group have none of that corny schtick associated with cabaret, instead the vibe here is contemporary jazz drawing from many influences from the past.

The musicians on here are outstanding and are very careful as they weave their individual instrumental voices around Krebs vocals. The band is referred to as ‘chamber jazz’, as this group tends to perform in intimate salon settings, often at Kreb’s home, but this is a much warmer sound than is usually associated with contemporary chamber jazz groups of the North European slant. There is no artificial ‘spacious’ reverb on here, instead every instrument is recorded au naturale with a bright clear precision, it really sounds like you are in the room with Krebs and her band. Paul Cartwright's violin, in particular, gives the band an earthy sound that cuts across the decades. Susan is an excellent singer, blessed with a strong voice that understands jazz nuance, but she sometimes resorts to a sort of “stage whisper” type delivery. Possibly this is due to the intimate setting of her concerts, but she sounds best when she just belts it out, she has the pipes, as they say.

vocal jazz movie reviews

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.

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'Out to Lunch!' Avant-Garde Jazz
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