Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

883

The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide

Suzanne Lorge By

Sign in to view read count
The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide
Scott Yanow
Paperback; 264 pages
ISBN: 0879308257
Backbeat Books
2008



Gosh, there are a heck of a lot of jazz singers out there. More than 700 at least, according to Scott Yanow, who takes on the daunting task of cataloguing them all. Jazz singing doesn't lend itself to ready analysis, as do, say, the football strategies that lead to a Super Bowl win. Reason being, before you can say who the greatest jazz singers are you have to define jazz singing—and there's the rub.

Yanow gives a nod to the problem and proceeds to offer a working definition at the get-go: to be a jazz singer, first and foremost one must have an interesting voice and contribute in some way to the professional jazz lexicon. Vocal innovation is the key factor in jazz singing, but not scatting necessarily, and Yanow points to Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett as candidates for inclusion.



Yanow goes on to note, by contrast, that great improvising does not necessarily a great jazz singer make: Chet Baker could be one heck of a scatter but wasn't much of a singer. Still, Baker made the cut. Norah Jones, the jewel in the crown of Blue Note Records, did not. Yanow explains why, and it's all very convincing.

These kinds of conversations run throughout the book and give us the second reason to read it: namely, to see who made it in and why. Yanow is careful in his explanations and generous to his subjects, even as some of his selections still beg the question, why this one and not that one? But this is not an official ranking and Yanow is clear when the opinion is his own.

The Jazz Singers: The Ultimate Guide is divided into six sections: the greats, today's up-and-comers, singing instrumentalists, vocal groups, jazz singers on film, and other books on jazz singers. The introduction is full of interesting background information but could have done without the paragraphs on unskilled singers: how much time on Super Bowl Sunday do we spend complaining about the quarterback who fumbled during our high school's Homecoming game?


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The Politics Of Improvisation Book Reviews Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 10, 2017
Read All That's Jazz Book Reviews All That's Jazz
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 6, 2017
Read Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine Book Reviews Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and...
by Doug Collette
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend Book Reviews Claude Ranger: Canadian Jazz Legend
by David A. Orthmann
Published: November 15, 2017
Read Softly, With Feeling Book Reviews Softly, With Feeling
by Richard J Salvucci
Published: October 24, 2017
Read Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz Book Reviews Good Things Happen Slowly: A Life In And Out Of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 13, 2017
Read "All That's Jazz" Book Reviews All That's Jazz
by Phil Barnes
Published: December 6, 2017
Read "Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie" Book Reviews Paul Morley: The Age of Bowie
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth" Book Reviews Charles Lloyd: A Wild, Blatant Truth
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 25, 2016
Read "Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The Politics Of Improvisation" Book Reviews Listening For The Secret: The Grateful Dead And The...
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 10, 2017
Read "Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community, 1945-1975" Book Reviews Soul Jazz: Jazz In The Black Community, 1945-1975
by James Nadal
Published: July 7, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!