Nature Boy

Je voudrais remercier Amina, une de mes élèves, pour ce vidéo du groupe vocal Norvégien “The Real Group,” et leur version de “Nature Boy.” C’est une chanson très émouvante et continue qui continue d’inspirer à la fois des instrumentistes et des chanteurs/ses.

Thanks to one of my students, Amina, for introducing me to this Norwegian vocal group and their version of “Nature Boy.” It is a song whose message has inspired many, and, judging from the response in my workshops, still resonates.

Et voilà une autre version de “Nature Boy”par Le Jazz Vocal Ensemble de Université Howard.

Quel pouvoir la voix! Et des voix ensemble, en harmonie, peuvent créer de la musique qui parle au coeur. Le chant en close harmony et la liberté vocale sont durement acquis, mais qui donnent beaucoup de plaisir et une grande satisfaction.

Aussi noté bien le “bassist” vocal – incroyable, non? Nous chanteur/ses devons apprendre à mieux écouter les bassists et  le rôle dans un groupe. Même “un bassist” vocal function de même manière qu’un bassist instrumental. Un bon bassist peut être le vent qui vous porte vers des improvisations libres et assurés. Voilà une idée, écoutez les enregistrements avec certains des meilleurs des bassists, trouvez une espace tranquil, et écoutez, simplement écoutez. Mais prenez garde, ça prends du temps, mais le retour est inestimable.

And here is another great vocal ensemble version from  Howard University’s Jazz  Vocal Ensemble.

The power of the voice! And voices together in harmony create luscious, soul stirring music. Tight harmonies and vocal freedom are hard won pleasures. 

But notice the bass “player,” incredible, no? As singers we need to learn to listen to the bassist, whether vocal bass, as here, or an instrumental bassist. A good bass player will be like the wind beneath your wings as fly into improvisation.

Gather together a load of songs with some of the best bassists, find a quiet place, and just listen, just listen and a whole new understanding will come to you. But beware, it takes time but the rewards are precious.

Which bassists? Well, in my next post I will make a few song suggestions that show off some of the best bass stylists.


Sweet Honey

There are so many great vocal groups, old and new, still together or dispersed. Over the next few weeks I will post some of my favorites. Today it is Sweet Honey In The Rock, an american female vocal group founded in 1973 by Dr. Bernice Reagon. “The name of the group was derived from a song, based on Psalm 81:16, which tells of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them.” Although contemporary in style, their music is rooted in the spirituals and hymns of the African-American experience.  But let them speak for themselves.

N.B. I have updated the music files as well. so check it out

The Art of Jazz Group Vocalese

Vocalese is a style of jazz singing in which words are set to an instrumental composition or improvisation. The style was developed by the great Eddie Jefferson (1917-1989) although he admitted that he was greatly influenced by drummer, trombonist and singer Leo Watson (1898-1950) who mixed both scat and vocalese. What’s the difference? While improvised singing, or scat as it is commonly known, uses nonsense syllables such as dee, bop, bah, doo wop,”  etc. in solosvocalese uses lyrics set pre-existing instrumental solos. Although the style was originally associated with solo singers , it soon became a stylistic component for some vocal groups. Lambert, Hendricks and Ross are probably the best known of these groups. Jon Hendricks wrote the lyrics for the melodies as well as the solos. Vocalese lyrics tend to be syllabic, i.e. one syllable for each note of music.

Below is their rendition of Horace Silver’s “Doodlin’,” as well as Horace Silver’s original verso, for reference. Also I have included the brilliant version by Sarah Vaughan. Listen for when the solo starts on the Silver version and then listen to the singers vocalese over that section.

The 4th video is a fantastic vocalese version of Miles Davis’s “Tutu,” by the Manhattan Transfer.

So what does this mean for my vocal group? We are going to try “Doodlin’ this term. The arrangement included in this post is only for the melody. If someone wants to tackle the vocalese for the solo section, that would be wonderful, but for now we can just work on the melody.

Lambert,Hendricks and Ross – Doodlin’, 1960

Horace Silver – “Doodlin'”

Sarah Vaughan – Doodlin’, 1958

Manhattan Transfer “Tutu,” 2004

doodlin 3part alto 2 final doodlin 3 part soprano doodlin 3 part alto 1 melody

(Our current repertoire : “Feelin’ Good,” “Somagwaza,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Iko-Iko.” We need to continue work on these songs, as well as individual solo pieces. A lot of fun work to do this term. I’m looking forward to hearing these songs take. See you hopefully Friday.)