Ward Swingle is back. Swingle left The Double Six of Paris in 1963 to form his own vocal group, The Swingle Singers, which enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic. Forty years later, Swingle has assembled a group of eight (four women and four men) young and very talented singers to carry on.
Mood Swings is 61 minutes of a cappella vocals. Although eight arrangers contribute (including Swingle six times) the style is consistent throughout the album, with the high notes reached without effort and the swing maintained from start to finish. The lyrics include plenty of scat syllables as well as English and Portuguese.
Three songs are by Rodgers and Hart: "Have You Met Miss Jones?", "My Funny Valentine," and "The Lady is a Tramp." Three songs are Jobim bossa nova standards: "Surfboard", How Insensitive" and "The Girl From Ipanema." A fourth latin song is included with Astor Piazzolla's "Milonga del Angel".
Four songs are standards from the '30s and '40s: "Just One of Those Things," My Foolish Heart," "All the Things You Are," and "It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)." Three ballads of more recent vintage are included: "A Time for Love," "A Timeless Place," and "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?" Finally, there are two jazz songs from the '60s: "So What" (with Eddie Jefferson's lyrics) and "Soul Bossa Nova."
The singers make frequent and effective use of rhythm sound effects, such as the crash of a cymbal. Their ability to sound like the strum of a guitar is remarkable, particularly on "Surfboard."
There is no improvisation here. The voices blend very well together, as every voice is unusually smooth. Mood Swings is a welcome respite from life's stress!
Personnel: The Swingle Singers: Joanna Forbes, Meinir Thomas (sopranos),
Wendy Nieper, Sarah Simmonds (altos),
Tom Bullard, Richard Eteson (tenors),
Tobias Hug, Jeremy Sadler (basses).