The Book Of Jazz - online reference book

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

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*56                           THE INSTRUMENTS, THE SOUNDS, THE PERFORMERS
Some artists, because they live on the "pop" side of the fence, have earned less credit than they deserve in jazz terms. Out­standing in this group is the singer and composer Peggy Lee, whose warmth of timbre and acute sense of phrasing have at times achieved a mood of beauty comparable with Billie Holi­day's; an excellent example is her Decca album entitled Black Coffee.
The only vocalists to have emerged in recent years who can be numbered without reservation among the jazz singers are Joe Williams, the blues star of Count Basie's band; Jackie Paris, long admired by musicians though never accepted commercially by the public; Helen Merrill, whose opaque, tawny sound in itself suggests jazz; Carmen McRae, who shook off a Sarah Vaughan shadow to find a light, handsome style of her own; and Marilyn Moore, whose approach, though almost indistin­guishable from Billie Holiday's, has enough sincerity and passion to compensate for its apparent secondhandedness.
Vocal groups never have been directly a part of jazz, although as far back as the late 1920s, when Bing Crosby was a member of the Rhythm Boys Trio with Paul Whitemans orchestra, jazz-informed voices have occasionally spiced the flavor of a generally bland group. Usually these are fringe outfits whose material stems exclusively from Tin Pan Alley or the hinterlands of rock and roll. In recent years the tendency of these groups to include professional musicians has greatly raised the level of harmonic sophistication of their performances. Such quartets as the Four Freshmen and the Hi Los conceive, phrase and voice their routines in the manner of modern jazz orchestrations and have been accepted in jazz circles where their predecessors, the better known among whom included the Mills Brothers, Andrews Sisters, Delta Rhythm Boys, Deep River Boys, generally were considered non gratae in jazz society.
This survey of vocal jazz has not taken into account the many musicians who on occasion have shown themselves well qualified to indulge occasionally in a rhythmic, horn-like and often humor­ous vocal (John Gillespie, Benny Goodman et al.). Among the comedy-cum-jazz delights of jazz in the 1930s was the late Leo Watson, whose "scat singing", generally in meaningless syllables