Vocal Jazz

Jazz music community with reviews, MP3 (free download/stream) 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

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm | 60 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
4.81 | 7 ratings
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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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BOBBY MCFERRIN The Voice Album Cover The Voice
BOBBY MCFERRIN
4.98 | 2 ratings
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FRANK SINATRA My Way Album Cover My Way
FRANK SINATRA
4.76 | 4 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 Come Fly With Me Album Cover Come Fly With Me
FRANK SINATRA
4.67 | 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
4.42 | 5 ratings
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KURT ELLING Close Your Eyes Album Cover Close Your Eyes
KURT ELLING
4.50 | 2 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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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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vocal jazz Music Reviews

TAL COHEN Tal Cohen & Danielle Wertz : Intertwined

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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Carmel
The voice of an angel, supported by an able and crafty pianist is what you will get when listening to Intertwined, joined on tracks “Beautiful Love,” and “Autumn Leaves,” by saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, the trio, which is mostly a duo, have created a deliciously engaging offering.

Why is it special you ask? This answer is found in Wertz voice, she has a pure and crystalline tone, each word is given meaning. As a listener, I found myself constantly being entranced by her voice. Unlike many of her contemporaries there is truth in her voice, it’s not prattled with theatrics, or acrobatics, hers is a voice that just speaks through beauty, as if each word is like honey dripping from her lips. Many of the vocalists that are so long lasting in our minds, exhibit these same qualities, it is their ability to honestly convey the lyric that is so appealing. Though young in age, Wertz is matured in her delivery, rounded in her ideas, and savory in her lines.

Fine examples of this are exhibited on tunes like “Beautiful Love,” opened by saxophonist Jamie Oehlers, whose tone is refined and unaffected. Augmented by pianist Tal Cohen, the three work through the nuances of the tune, with hits and accents that embellish the lyric with interest. Wertz uses her voice as a vehicle that conveys the lyric, but also as a unified instrument contributing to the overall success of the track.

The title track “Intertwined,” is a wordless melody that Wertz works with the dynamics of her voice, just as a horn in a duo setting. She opens and closes her voice and uses swells to create useful texture changes, passages and solo lines with pianist Tal Cohen, which I might add are very effective. The two meld as a perfect instrument of song. Many times, with duo recordings, you find yourself noticing the spaces a bit too much. Cohen’s colorizations support and add interest and Wertz interacts with seamless resolve.

A bit father into the program we stop at “Manhattan in the Rain,” a moody reflective piece written by Duncan Lamont. Wertz’ delicate treatment is convincing, while Cohen creates a canvas of beautiful flowing lines, almost like a windy day with raining streams. You can hear the smile and joy in Wertz voice as the blossom of love, is in the air.

Overall, Intertwined is a delightful intertwining of what is best about young artists. Untarnished by the politics of music, what is brought forth is pure, innocent and simply beautiful. The promise of the moment, and being able to be free enough to live it, in the moment. This is a lasting work for a debut offering, and certainly it makes sense why Wertz was semi-finalists in the 2015 Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition. She certainly has won me over.

SHERRI ROBERTS Anybody’s Spring

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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Can Spring be an eternal feeling, it can when its sung by vocalist Sherri Roberts. Her latest offering in a string of well-conceived albums is entitled Anbody’s Spring, and it does Spring eternal, with a bounce and a swing that will put an extra step in your day. Bouncy, full of lilt and firmly rooted in the jazz idiom, Roberts performs tunes that are a delightful foray of time-tested standards and Broadway classics.

A little background on Sherri’s discography. She has four recordings as a leader and her fifth, Anybody’s Spring, is accompanied by a bi-coastal ensemble, of Harvie S on bass, David Udolf on piano, Akira Tana on drums and Sheryl Bailey on guitar. Released in March of 2017 at the equinox, this newest recording is among a collection of standout recordings as follows: 2013’s Lovely Days, a duo session showcasing pianist Bliss Rodriguez and three collaborations with renowned bassist Harvie S: The Sky Could Send You (2006), Dreamsville (1998), Twilight World (1996).

So, let’s get into the blossom. The title track “Anybody’s Spring,” begins the journey, the nostalgic sound of Roberts voice has a certain authenticity that transports you to a time when jazz was aplenty. Her voice is unaffected and clean, delivering a ringing truth of the lyrics. Udolf and S create a mid-tempo, deep swinging feel, with Tana laying down a soft, yet effective swing that allows vocalist Roberts to float atop.

Continuing through the program, I found myself stopping at “They Say Its Spring,” Roberts shines on this tune in particular, her relaxed matter of fact vocal style fits nicely, like a pair of your best Sunday gloves, her voice sparkles and shimmers. The supportive ensemble is sensitive and not overpowering, while creating a solid solo section that is both engaging and finely tuned.

A ballad closes out the offering with “Spring Isn’t Everything,” a witty twist on the season, the lyric is brought to an effervescence with Roberts loveliness. Her voice is round and she laments Spring with purity and truly captures the merit of the lyric, written by Ralph Blane and Harry Warren, and made famous by Margaret Whiting who recorded the tune in February of 1947 with Frank DeVol and his Orchestra, Roberts gives this tune a proper reading with sincere reverence.

A delight from start to finish, Anybody’s Spring is an evergreen beauty, meant to be savored no matter the season. An album I intend to visit often myself.

RON BOUSTEAD Unlikely Valentine

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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js
It would seem that jazz instrumentalists are far more expected to come up with original material than their vocal counterparts. Many new vocal albums will come out this year with the expected collection of well known standards, which isn’t such a bad thing, but it would be nice to hear more original tunes now and again instead of an umpteenth version of “You’ve Changed”, which is why “Unlikely Valentine”, the new CD by Ron Boustead, is such a treat. Of the first five songs on here, four are originals, and on the remaining cuts Boustead presents re-workings of known tunes, plus one more original.

One of the first things you will notice about Boustead is his sharp rapid fire diction. Boustead has a voice that would work great in voice-overs, as a radio DJ, or maybe even as a middle-aged rapper. When Ron wants to, he makes words fly by at a rapid rate like a be-bop saxophonist, but every word is always crystal clear. The next thing you’ll pick up from his originals is that this guy is very witty, with some occasional laugh out loud lyrics, particularly on the satirical “I Won’t Scat”, on which Boustead pokes fun at more indulgent jazz singers. Boustead is proud to point out that the main influence on his vocal style is Mark Murphy, but in his clever lyrics you will hear traces of Mose Allison and Bob Dorough. It comes as no big surprise that Dorough’s, “Love Comes on Stealthy Fingers” closes out this album.

In addition to being a vocalist, Ron is also a sound engineer, which might explain why this CD sounds so crisp, clean and well balanced. Boustead is backed on here by a soulful rhythm section that includes a Hammond B3, plus three horn players which gives the songs a swinging big band flavor. Many singers who are more well known than Boustead will release albums this year, but “Unlikely Valentine” is already one of my top picks for male vocal performance in 2017. Hopefully Ron will be releasing more albums in the future, he is a singer who deserves much wider recognition.

BEATA PATER Fire Dance

Album · 2017 · Vocal Jazz
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js
Beata Pater’s first five albums could be called ‘typical’ vocal jazz albums, as they featured the usual mix of standards and originals. That’s not to say her vocal approach has not been inspired, instead, she has received high marks for her flexible and fluid style, but no previous album she has made could prepare her followers for her latest, “Fire Dance”. On this new one, Pater employed Alex Danson to write eleven new originals, which Pater then arranged for multiple wordless vocal overdubs supported by a saxophone trio and a four piece electric rhythm section. The end result is a sort of modern big band made up mostly of Pater’s voice multi-tracked up to sixteen times on some cuts. The multi-tracked vocals sometimes have a classic vocal jazz ensemble sound that may remind some of The Swingle Singers or Manhattan Transfer, while the overdubbed wordless sounds may remind some of Bobby McFerrin, but for much of “Fire Dance“, Pater has crafted a sound that is unique to this album.

Musically this album pulls from a variety of styles including modern RnB, post bop and fusion from the Middle East, North Africa, and Eastern Europe. The end result is sometimes similar to Weather Report in the late 70s, or any of Joe Zawinul’s bands since WR. Imagine the Swingle Singers covering classic Weather Report material and you might have a clue as to what is going on here. Along with Pater’s lead vocals, the saxophonists occasionally take short solos, and even exchange in free three way interplay on a couple cuts.

The make or break on here is Pater’s approach to wordless vocals. No doubt this was a very risky record to make, many have a right to fear what an album based around wordless vocals might sound like, but “Fire Dance” is a success due to a very careful use of vocal sounds that never become annoying or embarrassing. Pater is also careful to never overuse the so-called ‘scatting’ technique, a decision that saves this album from potential indulgence. Instead, all of the multi-tracked vocals on here are carefully arranged, much like a complex big band chart. Top tracks include two beautifully abstract numbers that appear in the middle of the CD, title track “Fire Dance” and “The Princess”. Both feature soaring vocals that recall a pre-Renaissance European style, as well as a classic Middle Eastern sound.

REBECCA KILGORE Moonshadow Dance

Album · 2016 · Vocal Jazz
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Carmel
Rebecca Kilgore is a song stylist extraordinaire, known for her effortless portrayals of the Great American Songbook, with more than 40 recordings to her credit. She has appeared with Michael Feinstein at Carnegie Hall and on “A Prairie Home Companion,” and has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross. She was inducted into the Jazz Society of Oregon’s Hall Of Fame in 2003 and to the Oregon Music Hall of Fame in 2010. What is so uniquely keen about this project is it marks her debut as a songwriter, partnered with a pillar of the Portland jazz community Ellen Vanderslice; (though an architect by trade) she is an accomplished and prolific composer as well. The two are united with fellow songwriter, vibraphonist and pianist Mike Horsfall for a delightfully engaging offering entitled Moonshadow Dance.

The album traverses from romance to heartbreak to full of fun, and lyrically hints to her great pal Dave Frishberg, none is a better example than the sardonic “I Live in a Condo,” filled with swinging precision and instantaneous chuckle, penned by Horfsall it’s a delightful way to open the disc and set the mood. A rumba version and Kilgore’s original “Birthday Song, Generic” further endeavors the easy going, breezy feeling. What an injection of joy this album can bring to any day of the week, but don’t let the seemingly deceiving easy going vibe fool you, the musicians are top-shelf and the songs are so standard similar, you almost have to pinch yourself to remember you are listening to originals.

A highlight for me was “Aeolian Shade” a harmonically dark tune, gave me a chance to hear Kilgore represent a smoky timber of her voice. Penned by Vanderslice and Horfsall, Kilgore effortlessly shines; she is introspective and poignant and dips down deep in her range and floats effortlessly atop the accompaniment. Other highlights include and passionate “I’m Not Susceptible to You,” an up-tempo Latin take on “Cantando o Amor,” be sure to note there is also a reprise version of this track which is scaled down to voice and guitar with Marco de Carvalho at the helm of nylon strung guitar. This is particularly delightful, as you can hear each intent of the notes sung by Kilgore and played by de Carvalho. Moonshadow Dance does not disappoint, Kilgore continues to show why she is such a consummate jazz vocalist, her swing is effervescent, her tone of voice is timeless and she is an effortless technician. Truly another highlight to add to your collection, highly recommended.

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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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