An ode to trailblazing jazz singers

In a dense and soothing voice, akin to her contralto register, Grammy award-winning vocalist Dianne Reeves shares her thoughts on the “importance of the jazz singer” in the genre. It is weeks ahead of her performance at the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz in Sandton when Reeves tells me that, “through their lyrics, vocalists are the conveyor belts of the story in jazz”.

Whether it is Zim Ngqawana crooning about missing his hometown in Ebhofolo, or Anita O’Day’s commanding skat against the beat of Gene Krupa’s drums in Sing, Sing, Sing, vocals can relay literal messages or be the extra layer of sound in a song, or both.

Jazz singers “have played a great role in the evolution of this music”, Reeves says. “Musicians like Sarah Vaughan, Carmen McCrae and Betty Carter have been such trailblazers in the genre.”

Read it at the M&G.

Image – Wanda Baloyi and Asanda Bam (M&G)