The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

Its Nature, Instruments, Sources, Sounds, Development & Performers

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forms came with the early work of Louis Armstrong's Hot Five, Though Armstrong sang the blues frequently, he was given also to verbalizations of ad Mb passages similar to those he had been expressing through his horn. Heebie Jeebies augured the new approach, as did Save It, Pretty Mama, No One Else But You, and Monday Date. It was not until 1929 that Armstrong turned to Tin Pan Alley for source material with his passionate sublimation of I Can't Give You Anything But Love. By the next year the new pattern was set; as the era of Satchmo as a blues specialist ended, popular ballads and novelties crowded the Armstrong band book.
Armstrong symbolized what were then, and to some degree still remain, the essential qualities that constituted the jazz singer. The parched, guttural tone had something akin to the sounds musicians then identified as jazz timbres; the lyrics, completely losing their importance to the song, became a mere vehicle on which to transport the melody. In later years, jazz voices by the dozen echoed the Armstrong technique, which was no technique at all but thatjof singing each song as if he were in the process of personal creation, as if he were blowing the lyrics through his trumpet. Perhaps not by coincidence, many of those who followed Armstrong were also trumpet players whom nature had presented with g^tniral voices that seemed to speak and sing the language of jazz: Louis Prima, Wingy Manone, Roy Eldridge, Sharkey Bonano clearly were able to turn this natural gift to similar advantage.
If Armstrong was the first male blues vocalist to demonstrate that jazz singing was adaptable to the popular song, his feminine counterpart may have been Ethel Waters. Billed in her early years as "Sweet Mama Stringbean, direct from St Louis and Singing St. Louis Blues," Miss Waters in fact was from Chester, Pennsylvania and had made her early appearances in Phila­delphia and Baltimore before establishing herself in New York directly after World War I. In introducing and popularizing the song Dinah, she rephrased it, using syncopation and rubato ex­tensively, adding a synthetic "hot" touch through the use of occasional growling tones, and paved the way for the use of Tin Pan Alley material by every jazz vocalist in later years.