09 Vocalese, A Cappella and Unexpected Instruments

Broadcast December 7, 2014

Vocalese is the setting of lyrics to established jazz orchestral instrumentals. The word was coined by jazz critic Leonard Feather to describe the first Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross album, Sing a Song of Basie.

So Jon Hendricks, Dave Lambert and Annie Ross can be thought of as the originators of this style.  Some would disagree, citing Eddie Jefferson (who replaced a solo instrumental line with a vocal, rather than a whole horn section) or scat singing (which is vocal improvisation on a chord sequence using nonsense syllables rather than words.

A Cappella (Italian for as in chapel) means unaccompanied singing and as you might guess has a long history, from Gregorian Chant onwards.

Unexpected instruments :- instruments being used in unusual contexts.

Due to a cock-up on my (AlanDJ’s) part, not all the planned tracks got sent to Edison in time for the show.  The missing tracks were added in to the next show in the post-show set.

Title Artist Album/Performance Year Style/Instrument
Cotton Tail Lambert, Hendricks & Ross Everybody’s Boppin’ 1959 Vocalese
Birdland The Manhattan Transfer Extensions 1979 Vocalese
Freddie Freeloader Jon Hendricks, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau Arsenio Hall Show 1987 Vocalese
Drive Bobby McFerrin live, BBC Later 2012 Vocalese
Chiraa-Khoor Huun Huur Tu live concert 2011 Throat Singing
It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing) Modern Jazz Quartet Pyramid 1959 Vibraphone
Here We Go Again Dave Mason Headkeeper 1972 Harpsichord
Break it Down Tony Levin Resonator 2006 Chapman Stick
Mother Nature’s Son Gryphon Raindance 1975 Bassoon
Percolations – Part I & Part II Gong Gazeuse! 1976 Percussion
The Tears Of A Clown Smokey Robinson and The Miracles Compilation 1970 Bassoon
Sock Puppets – Flyover Iain Ballamy MirrorMask 2005 Accordian
Special Delivery Stomp Artie Shaw Traffic Jam 1949 Harpsichord
Throwdown at the Hoedown Béla Fleck & The Flecktones Left of Cool 1998 Banjo
Twist in My Sobriety Tanita Tikaram Ancient Heart 1988 Oboe
White Wheeled Limousine Bruce Hornsby Hot House 1995 Banjo
Winds On The Mountain Incantation On the Wing of a Condor 1982 Pan pipes