What is jazz singing?
- Jazz is different from other forms of music in that to be a “proper” jazz musician, you need to hear the harmony of the song.
- Jazz is based around the art of improvisation
- The swing style is totally unique to jazz
- There are many forms of jazz singing, including swing, Latin, ballads, free-jazz, modal jazz, cool jazz, funk and fusion
- To be a good jazz singer, you need to know some things about the structure of music
What does the education of jazz singers include?
- Knowledge of the standard repertoire
- Learning instrumental pieces including the bebop standards, particularly the works of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane
- Jazz harmony
- Keyboard skills
- History of jazz
- Performance skills
Why would someone want to be a jazz singer?
- They like the cool vibe of the music
- They like listening to jazz and want to perform it
- It is a deep music education
- Jazz music helps someone understand how harmony and creativity in music works
- People emerge from jazz courses with sophisticated skills in harmony and arranging
How can someone get better at singing jazz?
- Transcription is crucial
- This involves learning by ear, performances by masters of the jazz art
- Recommended artists include Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Anita O’Day, Michelle Nicolle, Kristin Berardi, Mark Murphy, Kurt Elling
Where do the syllables for jazz improvisation come from?
- They have developed over the years from something that was comical to a more serious form of improvisation
- The actual syllables are less important than ensuring you sing lines that are harmonically correct and have rhythm, form and connection to the tune
- Listen and emulate people who are skilled improvisers and the good names in jazz
- Also, learn works from instrumentalists, including Charlie Parker, Lester Young, Joe Henderson, Joe Pass, Freddie Hubbard, Clifford Brown
Rhythm and phrasing
- They are crucial to performing the jazz style well
- Sharny demonstrated a swing exercise based around at 12-bar blues
- Swing needs to have a sense of forward-motion like a stone skimming across the water
- Transcription and imitation of the greats is important strategy for learning how to sing with good rhythm and phrasing
- Pay attention to the way great jazz artists approach notes and get off them – the on-glide and off-glide
- Sharny has developed a set of jazz exercises for singers, which can be downloaded here