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Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

topic posted Sat, December 20, 2003 - 8:01 PM by  Unsubscribed
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Who is your favorite female jazz singer?

I find that I don't enjoy a lot of female jazz singers because they often times all sound breathy and just not very unique. Can anyone give me some suggestions of who to check out that doesn't fit that typical female jazz singer sound? Has anyone else noticed this about female vocalists in jazz or is it just me?

I love Ella... or course, and I'm also very fond of Lena Horne (sp?). I just haven't heard many current female singers that I enjoy, and I would like to find some.

Thanks!
-Christine
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  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Sat, December 20, 2003 - 11:43 PM
    I have a few favorites. Shirley Horne, dubbed the greatest ballad singer of all time, is a particular favorite of mine, especially after watching her and Toots Thielemans thrill the audience at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in 1997. Another of my favorites is the Canadian pianist/singer (and now multiple Grammy winner) Diana Krall. I've saw her at the same jazz festival four or five times, including one particularly memorable year at the after concert jam at the hotel all the guest artists were staying at.

    Other less well known singers I've heard a few times and enjoyed every performance include Jane Monheit, Evelyn White, Nancy Wilson, Dee Daniels, Roberta Gamborini, Carla Cook, Ethel Ennis, and Della Reese.

    I also absolutely adore the very well known giants, like Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holliday, Sarah Vaughan, and others.

    I think that many female jazz vocalists have particularly unique sounds and styles. It all depends on your personal taste. Give some of the ones in the above list a good listen. I think some of them will turn your ear.

    Particularly the great Shirley Horne. Oh, my goodness, that night in 1997 was probably the greatest musical treat I have ever heard. What a magnificent artist.

    Cheers.
    • Shirely Horn

      Sun, December 21, 2003 - 12:07 AM
      Shirley Horn is great. She _was_ Miles favorite singer, he even played on some of her records. Check out "Return to Paradise" from Here's to Life.
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Sat, December 20, 2003 - 11:53 PM
    I'm not a big fan of jazz vocals in general (I never have cared for Ella's perfect enunciation and pitch but I am a fan of Lady Day who is also an acquired taste), that said, I'd like to recommend a couple of female jazz vocalists that I do like: Nina Simone and Blossom Dearie. Nina Simone is not strictly a jazz singer (she is way too big a personality to be confined to any one genre) but her first album, on Bethlehem, Little Girl Blue is a jazz masterpiece - check out her version of Gershwin's "I Loves You Porgy." Blossom Dearie is almost her polar opposite. Best known to my generation (I'm thirty-seven) for singing a few of the Schoolhouse Rocks songs (my favorite of hers is "Figure Eight") she possesses the voice of little girl. That _could_ sound cloying but her phrasing is impeccable; she can always break my heart. Blossom Dearie's song selection and phrasing was a big influence on Miles Davis, who hired her to play between sets for him in the early sixties. Check out her version of "Manhattan" from Once upon a Summertime.
    • Unsu...
       

      Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Sun, December 21, 2003 - 2:06 AM
      My two favorites are Sarah 'Sassy' Vaughan and Blossom Dearie.
      • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

        Sun, December 21, 2003 - 3:24 PM
        sarah vaughn's great. and she was never afraid to bebop!
        • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

          Sun, December 21, 2003 - 5:23 PM
          is nancy wilson really that obscure? she's someone that i've known since i was a tot. my dad is a big fan, so there you go. bending the rules a bit, check out (little) jimmy scott--nancy (admittedly) bit his style. he's got this great way of completely re-writing songs, and making them even better. i heard him do the elton john song "sorry seems to be the hardest word" and it almost literally brought me to tears.

          back on topic, i would definitey recommend you checking out cassandra wilson, one of my loves. deep & throaty, i've had people mistake her for a male vocalist. she did a couple of albums i strongly suggest. "new moon daughter" which features many tunes that i wouldn't call jazz, although she is definitely a jazz singer, and "traveling miles," a tribute to mssr. davis.
          • Jimmy Scott

            Mon, December 22, 2003 - 12:00 PM
            < bending the rules a bit, check out (little) jimmy scott--nancy (admittedly) bit his style. he's got this great way of completely re-writing songs, and making them even better. i heard him do the elton john song "sorry seems to be the hardest word" and it almost literally brought me to tears. >

            Sometimes I think you can read my mind – it’s fucking scary. I was thinking of mentioning Jimmy Scott but what with his lack of a uterus, I thought the better of it. I don’t know if you picked up the reissue of his Falling In Love Is Wonderful record last year or not but his version of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” breaks me down *every* time (and it’s a happy song.) For me, after Billie nobody breaks my heart like Little Jimmy Scott.
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Mon, December 22, 2003 - 8:50 AM
    Recently I've been into Nina Simone, mainly because of her attitude. You can't ever go wrong with Ella Fitzgerald or Billie Holiday, as many above can attest.
    If you ever get a chance to see her, Dee Dee Bridgewater is a fantastic entertainer live, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend any of her recordings.
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Mon, December 29, 2003 - 2:06 PM
    Betty Carter.

    I absolutely adore the duets she did with Ray Charles. Her slightly flat notes are sooo savory.
    • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Tue, December 30, 2003 - 10:25 AM
      i ditto all the classic females on this list, and a half-hearted second to diana krall.

      the only current jazz singer i love as much as the "oldtimers" is kim nalley, because she's such a lively performer, and her voice and style harkens back to billy and the bunch. there's this piece she does once in a while (i forgot the title of the song), that she sings in billy holiday-voice, ella fitzgerald-voice, sarah vaughan-voice, and then betty carter-voice. amazing.
      • Unsu...
         

        Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

        Tue, December 30, 2003 - 10:41 AM
        Diane Schuur, Diana Krall, Ella, Sarah, Billie, Astrid, and believe it or not, Cindy Lauper has a great new jazz album called "At Last."
    • Unsu...
       

      Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Mon, May 17, 2004 - 3:33 PM

      I was waiting for someone to mention Betty Carter! Her rendition of Cole Porter's "Everytime We Say Goodbye" just absolutely kills me---knocks me the fuck out! It is a shame she does not seem as well known as many of these other fine ladys.

      Thanks for adding her to the list, dij!
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Thu, January 1, 2004 - 5:46 PM
    Hi Christine,

    If you want to find an unconventional female jazz vocalist, check out some of Patricia Barber's work. She's been around for a while (since the late 80s, I believe), but has just started to get popular. She does do that usual "come hither" style, but also has experimented with wordless singing (it's not scatting, but very ethereal and unique). Her album "A Distortion of Love" has great redition of "Summertime" using that. Her other work is also very good-her voice has more depth and resonance than many other popular jazz vocalists.
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Tue, January 20, 2004 - 6:11 AM
    Julie London is amazing, and no one has yet mentioned Anita O'Day, my god, beautiful! And Chris Connor is smooth and silky, while Carmen Mcrae is the classic American vocalist with a slightly nasal tone but amazing chops.

    Betty Carter is the queen of bop no doubt, and Peggy Lee was a great songstress too... What about some current singers! Anita Wardell in UK, Michelle Nicole and Julie O'hara in Australia, Roberta Gamberini (?) someone else mentioned her, she is great as well.
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Tue, January 20, 2004 - 9:01 AM
    Norah Jones
    • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Tue, January 20, 2004 - 9:05 AM
      Does Joni qualify? At moments in her career.
      • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

        Tue, January 20, 2004 - 3:12 PM
        Growing up listening to Ella, Dinah Washington and Sarah Vaughan, it's hard for me to work up any enthusiasm for modern jazz singers. They don't seem to be able to swing, which seems pretty key for, you know, the jazz. :)
        That being said, I love love love Lorraine Feather's "New York City Drag." It's all Fats, including some instrumentals which Feather has written viciously funny lyrics to.
        Give it a listen!
    • Norah?

      Tue, January 20, 2004 - 6:58 PM
      I don't mean to be pedantic, but can you really call Norah a jazz singer? She is a great singer that's for sure, but covering one standard on a album, doesn't really make you a singer of jazz! I would say she's a country pop cross over with a jazzy inflection!

      Some others I thought of - Bessie Smith, Dinah Washington, Ma Rainey, Helen Humes... Ella Mae Morse..Ella Mae and Norah are probably in the same boat actually. The blues guys said she was a blues singer, the jazz guys called a jazz singer, while the country guys swore she was a country vocalist through and through!
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Mon, May 17, 2004 - 9:49 AM
    Too dificult to pick one...
    In no particular order:
    Betty Carter, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McCrae, Annie Ross, Cassandra Wilson, Billie Holiday,
    Rachelle Ferrell

    Question:
    Is Norah Jones a "jazz" singer?
    In my opinion.... NO!!!
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Tue, October 12, 2004 - 11:38 AM
    Not mentioned yet is the awesome Tierney Sutton - she has range, a perfect ear, works closely with her band for fresh arrangments, and she can scat like the wind (Her version of "Ding, Ding the Witch is Dead") is a total tour-de-force (sp?)... Also keep an eye out for GRetchen Parlato, who just won the Monk Festival and that should lead to a recording deal- saw her live and she blew us away doing Brazilian music
    • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Tue, October 12, 2004 - 12:55 PM
      1: Billie Holiday - There is absolutly no one else like her!!

      2: Sarah Vaughn - I love to hear her version of Stardust.

      3: Diane Reeves

      4: Flora Purim

      5: Dakota Staton

      6: Anita O'Day

      7: Cassandra Wilson

      8: Jane Monheit

      9: Joni Mitchell - yeah I know ... she's not technically classified as jazz. But I love her voice and arrangments.

      10: Raclel Farrell
      • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

        Tue, October 12, 2004 - 7:56 PM
        <9: Joni Mitchell - yeah I know ... she's not technically classified as jazz. But I love her voice and arrangments. >

        she's a better jazz singer than folk singer. man that folk stuff used to get on my NERVES!!
        besides, she's done "twisted" (wardell gray tune) and worked w/charles mingus...
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Wed, October 13, 2004 - 5:47 PM
    The greatest living Jazz Vocalist, in my opinion, is Nancy King. She is the true singer's singer. She has the time of a master drummer, a 4 octave range, perfect pitch, and a sound all her own. All the really big singers worship her.
    She has a bunch of great recordings out as a leader but she never left Portland,Oregon so she never got the attention that she was due. She is right up there with Ella and Lena if I may be so bold. She is more known on the international scene than the national. Check out some of her work and tell me if I'm full of shit. <nancykingjazz.com/listen.htm>
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Wed, October 13, 2004 - 5:51 PM
    The greatest living Jazz Vocalist, in my opinion, is Nancy King. She is the true singer's singer. She has the time of a master drummer, a 4 octave range, perfect pitch, and a sound all her own. All the really big singers worship her.
    She has a bunch of great recordings out as a leader but she never left Portland,Oregon so she never got the attention that she was due. She is right up there with Ella and Lena if I may be so bold. She is more known on the international scene than the national. Check out some of her work and tell me if I'm full of shit. <nancykingjazz.com/listen.htm>
  • Favorite Local Female Jazz Singer

    Sun, October 17, 2004 - 11:05 AM
    Karen Blixt does it for me. She's live and local. Check club listings.
    Rocky
    • Re: Favorite Local Female Jazz Singer

      Sun, October 17, 2004 - 11:15 AM
      I checked some sites and she's singing tonight at Club Jazz Nouveau in SF.
      • Re: Favorite Local Female Jazz Singer

        Sun, October 17, 2004 - 11:17 AM
        I keep forgetting this site is national. Duh!
        • Unsu...
           

          Re: Favorite Local Female Jazz Singer

          Sun, October 17, 2004 - 4:22 PM
          Going by what I have the most of in my collection, Ella is probably my favorite. Sure, she's not an emotional singer like Billie or Lincoln, but her voice is technically perfect - a statement I make with no caveats whatsoever. Plus, her Songbook LPs constitute the greatest collection of American songwriting ever compiled.

          Sassy's next, especially her album with Clifford Brown ("Lulluby of Birdland" on that record is near-definitive), followed by Columbia-era Holiday.

          I love me some Dinah Washington, but she's on the edge of jazz and R&B in my book.

          Anita O'Day never ceases to amaze me, but I have to be hopped-up on a pot of coffee to really get into her performances.

          Finally, I need to tip my hat to Annie Ross. Her work with Lambert & Hendricks is fan-freaking-tastic, and everyone should check out the album she recorded with Gerry Mulligan (Sings a Song With Mulligan) which is predictably out-of-print.
  • Unsu...
     

    Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Wed, November 24, 2004 - 10:04 AM
    For contemporary Jazz vocalists, I would have to suggest that you check out Dena DeRose. She is an excellent pianist and arranger as well as a great vocalist. (Check out www.denaderose.com/). Her takes on the standards are original and compelling. In my estimation, she eclipses anything produced by Nora Jones (who I find dull and "breathy" in the way you described), Patricia Barber (who's popularity seems to rely primarily on her being from Chicago), Jane Monheit and the like. Dena DeRose tours a fair amount and often performs as part of the Stanford Jazz Workshop here in the SF Bay Area. Her CDs are available via her web site.
    • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Thu, November 25, 2004 - 4:40 AM
      <Patricia Barber (who's popularity seems to rely primarily on her being from Chicago)>

      hmm... i would have appreciated a dig based on something OTHER than where she's from. this is the first *i've* heard of her being from chi-town, so i think your claim is dubious.

      always looking for good talent though, so thanks for the tip--i'll check dena out.
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Sun, November 28, 2004 - 2:05 AM
    Well I really Love Ella, and Nina S.
    I also have some Billy H. I have Lena Horn also Sara V.
    Hey does anyone any Pearl Baely albums (don't now the spelling is right.
    I have this Jazz Com, where she sings this song calle I think (Tired, or Tired of the life I lead)?
    I Even Like me some old Eartha Kit. I like it when she sings that Lazy Afternoon.
    Anyone have any sugestion for some others
    • Ed
      Ed
      offline 21

      Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Sun, November 28, 2004 - 10:35 AM
      1. Blossom Dearie
      2. Jeri Southern
      3. Peggy Lee
      4. June Christy
      5. Julie London
      6. Carmen McRae

      Check out Jeri Southern's Decca collection. Miles Davis saw her sing at the Vanguard and whispered to her, "you sound like a spook." She took it as a supreme compliment.

      I love those old girl singers.
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Wed, January 19, 2005 - 10:19 PM
    I would have to go with:
    Blossom Dearie
    Cassandra Wilson
    Patricia Barber
    • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Sat, January 22, 2005 - 6:03 PM
      Okay, you guys have turned me on to Patricia Barber! She's great! I love her stuff.

      Now try Renee Olstead! I'm listening to her right now. She has such a charming, sweet, yet sexy voice. I love her rendition of Summertime, and A Love That Will Last.

      Sometimes I look on amazon.com for music I know I like. It will say, if you like this one, then you'll like that. That's a common way I find new music that I haven't heard. I think that's how I found Laura Fygi and Renee Olstead. Check them out!
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Thu, February 3, 2005 - 5:55 PM
    joni mithell, nina simone, madeleine peyroux, etta james fill up my heart
    • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Thu, February 17, 2005 - 10:07 AM
      Cleo Patra Brown -
      she was wicked on the keys too!
      and Mildred Bailey
      • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

        Thu, February 17, 2005 - 12:44 PM
        im sure ill be cursed for saying this but i find Diana Krall to be one of the more overrated musicians out there -
        quite dull and uninspired - shes a decent enough piano player and a mediocre singer -
        I havent heard a ton of her stuff ( just because what i have heard has done nothing for me) but a lot of what i have heard i dont really consider jazz -
        I love ella fitzgerald and she was a great jazz singer - but she recorded lots of material thats not really jazz either -
        but then again - is there a wider, more all encompassing genre of music than jazz - probably not . . .
        whenever i meet someone who says they "like jazz music" - im always curious what they are talking about - just last week i was setting up a PA system in a bar and had some old guy ask if i had any jazz - i put on louis armstrongs hot 5 and he got mad and said "what the hell is that - i said i wanted to hear some 'real jazz' "
  • Unsu...
     

    Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Mon, March 28, 2005 - 6:47 AM
    ~ Billy Holiday
    ~ Nina Simone
    ~ Katharine Whalen (Squirrel Nut Zippers)
    • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

      Sun, April 3, 2005 - 10:15 AM
      JACINTHA!!

      Classic - of course Ella Fitzgerald, then Shirley Horn, Billie

      Also - Eva Cassidy, Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Nina Simone, Nancy Wilson, Etta James

      • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

        Tue, April 5, 2005 - 9:22 AM
        Nina Simone without a doubt. Her voice isn't pretty or etheral, but man could that woman belt it out. Her version of "House of the rising Sun" makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. Not to mention the most heart wrenching version of "Strange fruit".
  • Re: Favorite Female Jazz Singer?

    Mon, August 8, 2005 - 2:45 PM
    Hey, I saw that you said you wanted to find more female jazz artists. I reccomend Nina Simone and Billie Holiday for starters, and I listed my favorite songs of theirs as well.

    *Nina Simone - I've got it bad (and that ain't good), I want a little sugar in my bowl
    *Billlie Holiday - Lover Man, I Loves You Porgy
    *Etta James - The Very Thought of You, At Last

    -Sophie

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