In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
One of the most popular music forms of the last century, jazz comes in many styles, from the all-instrumental and accompanied to our favorite - vocal. It's an art form that is so identified with the United States, and yet so much great jazz comes from talented groups around the world. Doesn't matter, though, because Jazz transcends language and national borders - warm, luscious tones, smooth sounds and powerful, emotive chords are great anywhere. And vocal jazz is just the icing on a very smooth and delightful cake.
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A Cappella ExpreSSS is a professional a cappella group from Russia, consisting of six members: soprano Elena Nazarova, tenor Max Kostra, soprano Katya Nadareishvily, baritone Anton Kasatkin, Etery Beriashvily and bass Andrey Tunik.
The ensemble was founded in March 2002. On August 17, 2002 they performed for the first time in the Moscow art-club Nostalgie. In the next year, the group recorded their first album, Magic Moments. In 2006 they signed a contract with Universal Music.
A large portion of the songs they perform are well-known international and Russian hits, Russian folksongs, and their own interpretation of classical music. However, they also compose and sing their own songs.
Howard University's premier vocal jazz ensemble, Afro Blue was formed in the spring of 2002. Since its inception, this dynamic jazz choir has quickly gained national attention.
In 2003, Afro Blue received the Downbeat Magazine Award for Best College Jazz Group. The following year they received another Downbeat Award for Outstanding College Jazz Choir. In 2007, Howard University graduate student Quincy Phillips also won a Downbeat Award for Best College Jazz Arrangement for his treatment of the Dietz and Schwartz standard "Alone Together," which he arranged specifically for Afro Blue.
Afro Blue has performed at many prestigious venues in and around Washington, DC, including the Library of Congress, the Carmichael Auditorium at the National Museum of American History, the State Department, the Lincoln Theatre, the Warner Theatre, the Japanese Cultural and Exchange Center, Twins Jazz Club, and HR-57.
The American River College Vocal Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Dr. Arthur Lapierre has been in existence for 13 years. American River College is a two-year institute of learning in the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento, California. During this time the Vocal Jazz Ensemble has received 7 DownBeat Awards from DownBeat Magazine. Most recently, in 2010, the ensemble won the Best Undergraduate Vocal Jazz Ensemble Award for their newly released CD; Your Eyes. The ensemble has previously appeared before the International Association of Jazz Educators Conferences in Toronto, Long Beach, and New York. In 2010 the ensemble appeared before the ACDA Western Division Conference. In March of 20111 the ensemble will sing before the national conference in Chicago.
Sons of Russian Jewish immigrants from the Ukraine, the Ames Brothers were among the top selling artists of the early 1950s. Their close-harmony style had few equals, producing a chain of Top Ten hits throughout the decade. Born into a large family (five brothers and four sisters in all), the siblings were taught a love for music at an early age. Though they won several amateur singing contests during their youth they didn't turn professional until after they had finished school. All four were good students and athletes and initially chose to pursue careers other than pop stardom. Gene became a painter and a semi-pro baseball player. Vic was an actor and professional boxer. Eddie became a table tennis champ. And Joe won a full engineering scholarship to UCLA. He left after only a year, however, transferring back home to Boston College to study music. His studies eventually earned him a starring role in the Montreal Metropolitan Opera.
An Octave Above is a group of eight professional vocalists who blend years of experience and a love of a cappella harmony to every style of music they sing. From doo-wop to jazz, standards to pop, Bacharach to The Beatles, An Octave Above creates a new standard for excellence on the Chicago music scene.
Also members of prestigious Chicago-area choral ensembles including the Chicago Symphony Chorus, An Octave Above members hold degrees from Elmhurst College, Northern Illinois University, Bradley University, University of Illinois at Champaign, Western Michigan and the University of Miami.
During a time when teenagers were doing the jitterbug and Uncle Sam was asking young men to enlist, The Andrews Sisters were America's most popular female singing group. Patty, the youngest sister, was a loud and energetic blond who headed the group with her confident vocals. The middle sister was Maxene, a brunette, whose harmonic range gave the impression of four voices instead of three. Finally, completing the trio was the eldest, LaVerne, a strong willed red head with a witty sense of humor and an eye for fashion.
The Andrews Sisters versatile sound and range in genres explains their longevity in the music industry and popularity with people all over the world. They had major hits in nearly all types of music ranging from swing to country-western. This tremendous popularity did not stop in the music business. The trio could also be found performing in radio series, commercials, Hollywood movies and on Broadway.
In the 1950s and '60s, the Anita Kerr Singers were one of the most popular group of backup vocalists in all of country music, appearing on countless recordings by renowned Nashville artists. Kerr was the group's leader, but was joined by alto Dottie Dillard, tenor Gil Wright, and baritone Louis Nunley, as the quartet initially gained attention by performing on the NBC radio program Sunday Down South in the early '50s, which led to a contract with Decca Records. In 1956, the Anita Kerr Singers landed a spot on the New York-based Arthur Godfrey Talent Scouts TV show, which led to further broadcast appearances (although the group never let their session work for others subside). Around the same time, Chet Atkins (then the head of RCA Records' country division) took the group under his wing, which led to the quartet appearing on countless recordings by renowned artists. The Singers continued to record and tour straight through the '60s, even managing to issue several of their own albums, including Anita Kerr Singers Reflect on the Hits of Burt Bacharach & Hal David, Velvet Voices and Bold Brass, and Simon & Garfunkel Songbook, among others.
Avante Vocal Jazz is eight accomplished singers, based in Raleigh, NC with a truly unique contemporary style. A bold fusion of jazz and contemporary a cappella singing, Avante performs repertoire paying tribute to the great masters of vocal jazz, while adding a new twist to many familiar standards. Their repertoire ranges from contemporary choral works to cutting edge jazz with a modern flair. Routinely praised for its high standard of musicianship and unique arrangements, Avante tours the United States, appearing in concert, corporate venues and on college campuses. Avante's educational outreach provides workshops to students of all ages and boasts two nationally regarded clinicians within its membership.,
Built in 1999 by musician and conductor Hiran Monteiro, Banda de Boca has built a history of success throughout his career. Initially formed by six musicians, singers, now the band has four male voices and one female, who use excellence with the vocal resources they have in common. The Banda de Boca is one of the most original Brazilian music news emerged in recent times. The band has strong characteristics as the reproduction of the original sounds of instruments with his voice, like guitar, bass, percussion, drums, violins, cellos, horns, accordions and even the prosaic triangle. They master the art of making music without using instruments.
In 2002, the group has won national recognition by participating in St. Paul, V PRIZE FOR VISA MPB - Vocal Edition, competing with two thousand candidates across the country and winning the second place. In 2004 he released his first CD, with support from the Department of Culture and Tourism of the State of Bahia, through the record label Sounds of Bahia.
Baravox has existed in its current setting since 1999. In 2001 the group released the CD "We're going up" which was distributed internationally. Later the same year the group won the European Vocal Grand Prix in Tampere, Finland (won the previous year by Finish group Rajaton). In 2003 Baravox was appointed Swedish vocal group of the year at a ceremony at Fashing, Stockholm. The group has toured within Sweden and Europe, performed at numerous festivals and TV-shows and conducted many workshops and clinics.
"Beachfront" is not a piece of real estate along the ocean, but it is a hot property nonetheless. Described as sounding like "Manhattan Transfer" meets "Take 6," their smooth singing style combines the rich sounds of jazz with the fun and energy of pop music. They have shared the stage with Mel Torme, "The Four Freshman," "The Hi-los," Kenny Rankin, Crystal Lewis, "The Brothers Four" and "Emerson, Lake & Palmer." The success of Beachfront Property is found not only in a successful blending of harmonies, but in a blending of personalities.
"Not everyone can sing in a group like this," says Tom Dustman, Beachfront's artistic director and bass vocalist. "It takes a special person to give, and give, and give." The object is to entertain while also preserving some of America's most beloved classics, he says. "No one person is the star." Achieving this feat takes a great deal of effort and a lot of self-control, as the key is to blend the voices. Beachfront's four-part blend is spun out in seemingly effortless fashion creating mellow and exciting, woven-together-like-cloth chords that treat the listener to arrangements of familiar songs with a whole new sound.
Four seasoned jazz singer, who previously made a name soloist, above all do together and pay homage to the group sound - four singers, four voices blend into a sound.
The press now says: "One of the most vocal groups span be the Republic." (Zitty) or "New Sound of fresh throats! ... You can expect a lot from this new jazz quartet from Berlin. "(Berliner Morgenpost)
For all the vocal harmony, the four are united not always vigorously debating and struggling together for the best sound. This positive voltage is transmitted to the music of Berlin Voices.
The group draws the possibility of a deep personal and musical familiarity: Esther Kaiser, Marc Secara and Kristofer Benn sang in 1998 in the Vocal Section of the Federal Jazz Orchestra (BuJazzO) under the direction of Peter Herbolzheimer. During the joint vocal studies at the jazz department of the Academy of Music "Hanns Eisler" under Prof. Judy Niemack (USA) and Prof. Jiggs Whigham (USA) they learn about Sarah Kaiser and exist in its current form since 2000. All complete their studies with the highest rating a major in singing.
On the 11th of March, 1950, Bobby McFerrin was born. His parents were classical singers and he began to study music theory early on in his life. His family then moved to Los Angeles. During high school and then in College, UCSC, he focused on the piano. Once he finished college, Bobby McFerrin toured with numerous bands including the Ice Follies.
However, it was only in 1977 that Bobby McFerrin decide to become a singer. At one point he met Bill Cosby who arranged for him take part in the 1980 Playboy Jazz Festival. It was only two years later where he released his firm album called "Bobby McFerrin" in 1982. It was in 1983, that Bobby McFerrin started converting without a band. This eventually led him to make a solo tour in Germany. It was in Germany that he recorded his album "The Voice". From that point on, he continued to make solo tours in the most prestigious locations. It is also important to realize that Bobby McFerrin worked with several important people like Garrison Keillor, Jack Nicholson, and Joe Zawinul. On "Another Night in Tunisia", Bobby McFerrin won two Grammies.
McFerrin was also featured in TV commercials for Levi's and Ocean Spray and also ended up singing the theme song for the Cosby Show and the movie Round Midnight by Bertrand Tavernier which got hum another Grammy. By now, Bobby McFerrin had achieved a great deal of success as a vocal and had released his platinum album Simple Pleasures which included the hit "Don't Worry be Happy".
One of the all-time greatest jazz vocal groups, the Boswell Sisters, Martha, Vet and Connee, began their career in the vaudeville houses of New Orleans. Connee, paralyzed from the waist down by a childhood accident (though her disability was often attributed to polio), always performed sitting down. Gifted musicians as well as singers, the sisters also worked at a local radio station, performing classical and semi-classical instrumentals. (Martha played piano, Vet played violin, banjo and guitar, and Connee played cello, saxophone and guitar.) Their careers took off when the radio station gave them a daily singing program.
BR6 has a story that is similar to that of other Brazilian vocal groups: singer-friends who know other singers and get together to make a vocal group. Unlike so many others who did it with voice and guitar, the group (6 musicians and arrangers with elaborate musical schooling) picked the most difficult way of making vocal music: without any instruments.
The group was influenced by the history of various generations of Brazilian vocal groups and by the first recording of the group Take 6, at the beginning of the 90s, a recording that changed the direction of international vocal music. Crismarie Hackenberg (mezzo), Deco Fiori (tenor), Andre Protasio (baritone), Marcelo Caldi (tenor), Simo (bass) and Naife Simoes (Vocal Percussion) go after two dreams: foment the creation of the market for Brazilian a cappella music and reverence national vocal music with their talent and creativity. On this same road, BR6 sums up the efforts of many groups, but stands out as pioneer in the art of making music without instruments, opening the way for new generations, that will certainly come.
Clockwork is a vocal quartet who sing mostly close-harmony jazz but also our own twists on pop and rock tunes.
Clockwork, an award-winning San Francisco based vocal ensemble with a signature sound and style, performs a banquet of music from funk to gospel and R&B to standards. Rooted in the tradition of great vocal jazz groups such as the Hi-Lo's and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, the Clockwork "sound" draws inspiration from all styles. As the great Duke Ellington said, "If it sounds good, it is good."
Experienced in both accompanied and a cappella performing, the group has arrangements for duos, trios and an 18-piece big band. Members of Clockwork have performed live with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, The Hi-Lo's , Meredith Monk, Don Shelton, Gene Puerling, Barbara Lewis, Sufjan Stevens, John Zorn, Barbara Morrison, Kent Nagano with the Deutches Symphonie Orchester and the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, The PM Singers, Heatwave, GQ, Barbara Lynn, Richie Cole, M-Pact!, the House Jacks, Boyz Nite Out, InFusion, Vocal Flight, and on Ward Swingle's Instructional video "Swingle Singing."
Considered among the best vocal groups in Italy, the clusters were established in 2004 with the idea of 5 students of the Conservatorio Niccolo Paganini. In recent years the group has performed throughout Italy and abroad, distinguished by its unique style that combines elements of jazz, pop and fusion.
Their 2008/09 tour dates and counted over seventy brought the group to perform on stage some of the most important musical events in the country, including: Umbria Jazz Festival, The Blue Note Milan, Feronia Festival, Bordighera Jazz & Blues Festival Lavagnino, Alpe Adria Cantat, Musicomic For Children, Palazzo Ducale Genoa, Veneto Jazz Festival, Sing Sing Festival Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome.
In some ways Comedian Harmonists might be called the first German boy group. Inspired by the American group 'The Revelers', Harry Frommermann published an ad in a local newspaper, auditioned and finally founded an ensemble consisting of 3 tenors, a baritone, a bass and a pianist.
After considerable training they met with initial success and rose to immense popularity. Sold out shows, records and movie appearances crowned their success.
However, the advent of Hitler's regime smashed their plans, as three group members were Jewish. They split and both parts tried to repeat the success with replacements - the Jewish members in the United States and the other three in Germany. Neither of them succeeded.
Cool & Jazzy, vocal a cappella group, the Winner of Ward Swingle Award, laureate and winner of international contests and festivals, promotes the live, dynamic and energetic music ranging from classic to house, including jazz, jazz-rock, fusion, latino, pop, rock, folk and buff with show elements. We sing in main world languages like English, French, German, Russian, Italian, Spanish, Hebrew, Yiddish, Ukrainian and Georgian. We create our own arrangements that possess the label "made by Cool & Jazzy".
Voce is the premier vocal jazz ensemble at Cuesta Community College in California. Since it's inception in 1981, the ensemble has toured extensively through the West Coast and has toured Europe eight times. Voce has received numerous awards including an Outstanding Performance Award from Downbeat Magazine, First Place at the 1998 Reno Jazz Festival, Second Place at the 2003 Reno Jazz Festival, and invitations to perform at the 26th and 30th Annual Conferences of the International Association of Jazz Educators in 1998 and 2003. In 2005 Voce was one of three vocal jazz ensembles from the nation that performed, by special invitation, at the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association. Voce also traveled to Europe in 2005 with the Cuesta Chamber Singers. The tour included two performances at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. Voce returned to Europe in summer 2008 to perform at the Festival en Provence in France. Voce has recently released two CDs, "Just One of Those Things," in April 2007 and "Timepieces" in January 2008.
The De Castro sisters grew up in Cuba, though each was born in a different country - Margarita Dolores, known as Peggy, was born in the Dominican Republic, Cherie - the United States, and Babette - in Cuba. They were singing and dancing by the early 40's and used several different variations of names as performers, including The Americanitas, The Marvel Sisters, The Fernando De Castro Sisters, and finally they shortened it to their family name of the De Castro Sisters. Their act included comedy, both intended and unintended, singing, dancing and apparent acting on stage. They were also the voices that sang Zip A Dee Doo Dah in Disney's 1946 film Song Of The South. Did they speed up their voices, or was it really their natural sound? They appeared in the 1947 film Copacabana, and several others including The Helen Morgan Story. Their very first recordings as the De Castro Sisters were from 1952 on the Tico label and included "I Do" and Jumbalato" with Tito Puente.
During the period between the 1930's and 1950's the entertainment field was filled with many talented sister vocal groups. There were the McGuire Sisters from Ohio, the King Sisters from Utah, the DeCastro Sisters all the way from Havana, Cuba, and the Andrew Sisters from Minnesota. Not to be outdone, the borough of Kings was represented in song by the Five DeMarco Sisters who began their career in the 1940's as teenagers.
The sisters got their start when their father moved the family from Rome, N.Y. to Brooklyn. Confident that they were ready for the big time he brought them in to NBC for an audition. And audition they did, right in the reception room, because Papa DeMarco had neglected to schedule an appointment. They were so good though that a producer signed them on the spot and scheduled them for the "Tent Show" Radio Program. But their career really took off after they were signed to appear on the Fred Allen radio show. For four years (1946-1949) Ann, Gene, Gloria, Maria and Arlene entered into the living rooms of America opening the show with "Mr. Al-len, Mr. Alll-llennnn." Their featured segment earned them $1000 per week enabling their family to move from their apartment in Bensonhurst to a larger home in Flatbush on East 5th Street.
The Dinnings were a musical family of nine children, all of whom started singing harmony in church, and then spent their Sunday afternoons singing for fun. Three of the sisters, twins Jean and Ginger and sister Lou, started to win amateur singing contests before the age of ten, and later began to perform with older brother Ace's orchestra. With little experience but a lot of ambition, the young ladies left their Oklahoma hometown and traveled to Chicago, where they auditioned for NBC radio. They were hired and remained for seven years, and ultimately became the highest paid radio act in the Windy City.
The group underwent a few lineup changes over the years (Lou was replaced in 1946 by Jayne Bundesen, who was in turn replaced by Tootsie Dinning in 1952), but their albums for Capitol sold consistently well, including their debut release Songs by the Dinning Sisters which held the top spot on the charts for 18 weeks. Marriages and children eventually demanded the act's attentions, but the family remained involved in music, from Jean Dinning writing the song "Teen Angel" to the sisters' nephew Dean playing bass for alterna-rockers Toad the Wet Sprocket. In 1988, Collectors Choice released an outstanding collection of the Dinning Sisters greatest hits, which is well worth checking out.
Down 4 The Count began in 2003, when six CSU Northridge students in the University's vocal jazz ensemble found they shared a common interest: wanting to sing ensemble vocal jazz without those pesky instrumentalists: in other words, A Cappella! Since that time, Down 4 The Count has won multiple awards (including three song-arrangement awards and 1st place at the 2009 San Diego A Cappella Competition) and they have performed at venues all over the greater Los Angeles and San Diego area, including the Jazz Bakery, The Coach House, The Coffee Gallery Backstage, San Diego IndieFest, and many more.
They have opened for both Rockapella and for Sixthwave. Their debut album, released in 2008, is for sale at Singers.com, on iTunes, Amazon, and probably several more. Although the group line-up has changed significantly since its inception, D4TC still features original arrangements with a distinctly jazz flavor.
Fifth Avenue is a bright, fresh, musical group - mostly because they don't know any better. They hit the scene in June of 1983 and dazzled audiences with their tight, pure harmonies and delightful sense of fun. Within a year they were appearing before 45,000 people in a two-hour concert at the Spokane World's Fair Park. They have also worked with such artists as Bill Cosby and Jerry Lee Lewis, and did a tour to Japan and China aboard the Royal Viking Star cruse ship.
After three great years they decided to take a bit of a hiatus. So they did...for nine years. This hiatus involved starting families, establishing private businesses, doing the 9 to 5 routine, entering and exiting a witness protection program, etc., but each member continued to develop his musical chops. But hey! Now, The Ave is back together and they're more fuel efficient, economical, and they have more RAM. Recently, Fifth Avenue has performed for enthusiastic audiences at the Boise State jazz festival, the Casper College jazz festival, the Frank DeMiero Jazz Camp and the 1998 International Association of Jazz Educators conference. They also had the pleasure of performing at the 1999 Boise Summer Riverfest, in concert with a jazz big band. Their audience included over 100,000 listeners in attendance, as well as countless more watching on live television. Between these engagements they've performed at colleges, conventions, and a couple of places that they'd rather not talk about.
The Christian a cappella group, First Call, have reinvigorated the familiar Christmas classics with fresh arrangements and sincere renditions of the old favorites. Appearances by guest vocalists and multi-tracking allow for a multiplicity of textures and sounds. "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" will rekindle good will toward all in even the most cynical holiday Grinch. "The New Twelve Days of Christmas" replaces the partridge and pear tree with shopping malls and choir rehearsals, and segues brilliantly into "We Wish You a Merry Christmas." The shimmering, pure vocal tones are augmented by the crisp, digital production. This is an "Evening" you won't want to miss!
Five By Design's signature harmonies have withstood the test of time in a career that stands out on America's musical landscape, spanning more than fifteen years. This nationally-acclaimed vocal quintet has been the choice of symphony orchestras and performing art centers delighting hundreds of thousands.
But Five By Design's creative talents go far beyond their vocal prowess. As the creative talent behind Radio Days, Club Swing, and Stay Tuned, their productions showcase the group's penchant for storytelling and the comedic. Whether backed by symphony orchestra or studio big band, Five By Design embraces the unforgettable melodies, lush harmonies, and swinging rhythms that evoke the names of Miller, Mancini and Mercer.
The line-up of this close-harmony 50s US vocal group, whose initial success was achieved by making cover versions of black R&B records, comprised Marge Rosse (New Milford, New Jersey, USA; lead), Bea Rosse (b. New Milford, New Jersey, USA; low harmony) and Geri Rosse (b. New Milford, New Jersey, USA; harmony). Their mother was a choral director and organist. After leaving high school they joined an all-girl troupe and went on an eight-month tour. Later, they were joined by their brother Frank on guitar, and appeared on radio and in theatres and clubs. After Frank was killed in World War II, the girls re-formed in 1944 as a trio and worked for several years on Perry Como's radio and television shows; they also backed him on several records, including the US number 1 hits 'You're Adorable' and 'Hoop-Dee-Doo'. Signed to RCA - Victor Records in 1949, they had several minor hits in the early 50s, including 'Tennessee Waltz', 'Let Me In' (with Texas Jim Robertson) and 'Cold, Cold Heart'.
One of the most successful pre-rock vocal groups, the Four Aces did well during the early '50s with a narrow range of pop material but burned out before decade's end. Founded by Navy shipmates Al Alberts and Dave Mahoney, the act added Lou Silvestri and Sol Vaccaro before making a name for themselves around their native Philadelphia. After failing to find a distributor for their debut single "(It's No) Sin," Alberts founded his own Victoria label to release the single. It became a big hit in late 1951 and sold a million copies. Signed to Decca before the end of the year, their debut single for the label, "Tell Me Why," just barely missed the top of the charts and sold a million copies as well. A few Top Ten hits followed during the early '50s before the theme to Three Coins in the Fountain hit number one in 1954. Another movie theme, "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," spent over a month at the top during 1955.
Formed in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, USA, in 1952, the vocal harmony group the Four Coins consisted of George Mantalis, James Gregorakis and brothers George and Michael Mahramas. Originally the quartet were horn players in an orchestra with Bobby Vinton, who was an unknown at the time. At the end of 1952 the foursome began harmonizing together, and in January 1953 appeared on an 'amateur hour' radio programme, which they won. They left Vinton in 1953 and began a residency at a Pittsburgh club called the Blue Ridge Inn, naming themselves the Four Keys.
They recorded their first singles in November 1953 for Corona Records, which led to a contract with Epic Records, a branch of the larger Columbia Records. Taking their cue from another quartet, the Four Aces, the group changed its name to the Four Coins. The group's first Epic single, 'We'll Be Married (In The Church In The Wildwood)', sold well but it was not until 1957 that they recorded their biggest hit, 'Shangri-La', which reached number 11 in the US charts and earned a gold record. The group had charted seven times by 1959. In 1960 they changed labels to MGM Records and continued to record for Jubilee Records, Vee Jay Records and Roulette Records, undergoing personnel changes along the way. They disbanded in 1970.
The Four Freshmen were one of the top vocal groups of the 1950s, and formed the bridge between '40s ensembles like Mel-Tones and harmony-based rock & roll bands such as the Beach Boys as well as groups like Spanky & Our Gang and the Manhattan Transfer. The group's roots go back to the end of the 1940s and a barbershop quartet-influenced outfit called Hal's Harmonizers, organized at the Arthur Jordan Conservatory of Butler University in Indiana by two brothers, Ross and Don Barbour. Their repertoire centered on standards such as "Moonglow" and "The Christmas Song," and they began to show an unusually free, improvisational approach to their harmony singing. A couple of membership changes brought Bob Flanigan, a cousin, into the fold alongside Hal Kratzsch, and suddenly the Four Freshmen were assembled in all but name, and that fell into place a little later.
The Four King Cousins are daughters of the famous King Sisters and members of the equally famous King Family.
The four young women, all pretty blondes in their early 20s, first appeared on TV on John Davidson's "Kraft Summer Music Hall".
Then they were signed to a Capitol recording contract, appeared on top shows like Jonathan Winters and Johnny Carson, and in concert with Buddy Rich, Buddy Greco and Stan Getz.
"Introducing" was their debut album, 11 heavily-accompanied pop covers, including a pair by Burt Bacharach, a pair by Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson's "God Only Knows" and other pop hits. Innocent, schmaltzy, nostalgic, top-40 fun from the late 60s!
From college campuses to supper clubs, fairs to industrial shows, commercials to concert halls, Tokyo's Latin Quarter to New York's Copacabana, Glasgow's Empress Theatre to Notre Dame, Las Vegas' Sands Hotel to Honolulu Stadium, Okinawa's Naha Theatre to Manilla's Aranete Concert Hall... the Four Lads radio, television and live appearances reads like a veritable "who's who" of the entertainment industry. The Lads launched their professional career in 1950 singing in local clubs around Toronto. Quite a few "Ups and Downs" later, the boys had a chance for a tryout performance at New York's posh dinner club, Le Ruban Bleu. There, Mitch Miller saw them and put them on the million-selling Johnnie Ray records "Cry" and "The Little White Cloud That Cried". After that, the Lads were signed to their own recording contract, receiving their first Gold Record in 1953 for "Istanbul". Their success story includes the sale of some 50 million singles and albums to date.
The clean-cut West Coast-based Four Preps are best remembered for a string of Top 100 hits during the late '50s and early '60s, including "Twenty Six Miles (Santa Catalina)," "Big Man," "Down by the Station," "Lazy Summer Night," "Got a Girl," "It Ain't Never," "Moon River," "Lollipops and Roses," "My Special Angel," and others. Ultimately, the Four Preps' biggest influence can be heard via their impact on Brian Wilson, whose harmony-driven production for the Beach Boys was a direct antecedent of the Four Preps' sound.
The Four Tunes, like many African-American groups of the 40s and early 50s, were a pop rather than a R&B ensemble. The group had its origin in the Brown Dots, and was formed by Ivory 'Deek' Watson (18 July 1909, Mounds, Illinois, USA, d. 4 November 1969, Washington, DC, USA) after he first fell out with the rest of the Ink Spots in November 1944. The other members of the original Brown Dots line-up were Pat Best (b. William Best, 6 June 1923, Wilmington, North Carolina, USA, d. 14 October 2004, Roseville, California, USA; baritone), Jimmy Gordon (bass) and Joe King (first tenor), although the latter was quickly replaced by Jimmy Nabbie (b. USA, d. September 1992). While still with the Brown Dots, Best, Gordon and Nabbie left Watson and joined with second tenor Danny Owens in 1946 to record on the Manor label as the Sentimentalists, changing their name shortly afterwards to the Four Tunes.
The Gold Company Program is widely recognized as one of the most successful and prestigious collegiate vocal jazz programs in the world. The award-winning ensembles perform a wide variety of repertoire which covers all styles in the contemporary vocal idiom. Gold Company has performed throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and South Africa. The groups have appeared at Carnegie Hall and Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York City, the World Symposium on Choral Music, the national conventions of MENC and IAJE, and divisional and national conventions of ACDA, as well as performing at Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and the 1st Annual Ella Fitzgerald Vocal Jazz Festival. Gold Company has also appeared with guest artists including Bobby McFerrin, Janis Siegel, Mark Murphy, Rosemary Clooney, Kurt Elling, The Manhattan Transfer, Jon Hendricks, Darmon Meader, and Don Shelton and Bonnie Herman of The Singers Unlimited.
Good Company is a seven-member vocal group based out of Midland, Michigan. They began singing together in 1999. Their repertoire covers classical to jazz with an emphasis on contemporary vocal harmonies and blends; Good Company is under the direction of Jim Hohmeyer. They have performed with Steve Zegree's Jazz Quartet from Western Michigan University and opened for the well-known Michigan Comedy Ensemble "Three Men and a Tenor", Kirby Shaw's vocal group "Just 4 Kicks", the fabulous "Four Freshmen" and for Doc Severinson and his big band on the MCFTA stage. In 2004, they were one of three vocal jazz groups invited to perform in Los Angeles for the ACDA National Conference.
Infectious grooves, stunning arrangements, and electrifying solos are just some of the phrases used to describe Seattle based vocal group Groove For Thought. Since 1998, GFT has brought their unique brand of jazz and R&B infused tunes to festival, concert, school, and nightclub audiences throughout the United States and abroad.
Groove Society, formed by Bianca Herbert & Joe Herbert, is an award winning vocal jazz sextet that is among the top rising stars on the world a cappella scene. In 2006, the group was named "Vocal Group of the Year" by the JPF International Music Awards, as well as being honored for "Best A Cappella Album", and "Best A Cappella Song". And in 2007, Groove Society received the prestigious "IAJE Award for Outstanding Service to Jazz Education" at the International Association for Jazz Education convention in New York City.
With the release of their critically acclaimed debut CD, Groove Society is receiving airplay on major-market jazz and NPR stations from coast to coast and around the world. They have appeared at international jazz festivals across the Mainland U.S., Hawaii, and Canada, sharing the billing with, and/or opening for top artists including Bonnie Raitt, Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, The Neville Brothers, Eddie Palmieri, Paquito D'Rivera, Freddy Cole, Patty Austin, The Rippingtons, Bobby Hutcherson, Jimmy Heath, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Dr. John, The Bad Plus, Paul Taylor, Nelson Rangell, Soulive, Styx, and many more!
One of the most innovative jazz/pop vocal groups of all time, the pioneering Hi-Lo's influenced countless pop, R&B, and doo wop groups from the '50s right up to the present.
They formed in December 1953 when Gene Puerling of Milwaukee and friend Bob Strasen met Clark Burroughs and Bob Morse. The latter two were vocalists with the Encores, the vocal group for the Billy May Band. When Billy's band stopped traveling, the Hi-Lo's were born. Reportedly named because of their extreme vocal and physical ranges (Strasen and Morse were tall, Gene and Clark were short), the Hi-Lo's practiced at Clark and Gene's Los Angeles apartment, refining their revolutionary voicings. The group were themselves influenced by such artists as The Four Freshmen, The Modernaires, and Mel Torme's Mel-Tones.
High Five is an award winning, mixed voice, 5-part, a cappella jazz quintet from the Baltimore-Washington area creating music and fun wherever music lovers can be found. With more than a century of combined musical experience, this full-chord sound and tight harmonies are indicative of their unique style. This, combined with an undisputable jazz influence & champion arranger, makes Janet, Christy, Lori, Joe and Mike the ensemble that is unmistakably High Five.
When Hudson Shad gave their German debut in the summer of 1995 they were hailed as the first equal heirs to the Comedian Harmonists by national news magazine Der Stern. This statement has since been repeated many times by the German media - TV, radio and print, both national and local. During three tours and several guest performances Hudson Shad has been welcomed with an enthusiasm as if the prodigal sons had come home. They have sold out prestigious houses like the Theater des Westens in Berlin, the Prinzregenten Theater in Munich and Gewandhaus in Leipzig. On a different occasion in Munich their shows had to be transferred from the medium-sized Lustspiel-haus to the larger Zirkus Krone. What sets Hudson Shad apart from other groups of their genre is first of all their musical professionalism.
The Idea of North defies categorisation. As a quartet of musicians, their voices are their instruments: soprano, alto, tenor and bass, with a bit of vocal percussion thrown in. Their sound and style is distinct, yet they cross many musical genres: jazz, pop, folk, gospel, even comedy.
Their arrangements are extraordinary. They take songs you know and songs you don't and create songs you'll love. But it's not just about the music:
"A pitch-perfect ensemble negotiating complex modulations with ease, constant seamless transition between lead and accompaniment parts, and the whole thing strung together by low-key, humorous conversational patter..." The Courier-Mail
Inner Voicesare Los Angeles-based session singers led by vocal arranger Morgan Ames. They have been performing together since the 80s. They have been profiled on CBS Sunday Morning, have toured Japan, performed on KCET, KTLA Morning News, the Jim Belushi Show and many others. They have recorded albums for Rhino, Laurel, Song River and Japanese Victor. They have performed for the Juvenile Diabetes Association, the Betty Ford Center, the Society of Singers, the AME Church and twice for President Reagan. They have sung and/or recorded with Kenny Loggins, David Benoit, Dave Grusin, Johnny Mathis, Dori Caymmi, Smokey Robinson and others. Each Christmas season they perform their highly acclaimed, sold out a cappella show in Los Angeles.
Between them, they have performed, recorded and/or toured with almost every major artist in the business.
Johnny Mann is best known for the forty-two albums he arranged and conducted for his Johnny Mann Singers resulting in five Grammy Award nominations and two Grammy Awards.
He is a composer, arranger, conductor, entertainer and recording star. His group of super-talented young singers appeared with him in Chevrolet's weekly syndicated series, "Stand Up And Cheer," which enjoyed a three-year run on national TV and many tours around the country.
Born August 30, 1928, in Baltimore, MD, Johnny got his start in Hollywood arranging scores for seven full-length motion pictures for Warner Brothers, Twentieth Century Fox and Columbia Studios. He then became the choral director of the "NBC Comedy Hour," which led to the formation of The Johnny Mann Singers and a record contract.
Jon Hendricks (born September 16, 1921) is an American jazz lyricist and singer. He is considered one of the originators of vocalese, which adds lyrics to existing instrumental songs and replaces many instruments with vocalists (such as the big band arrangements of Duke Ellington and Count Basie). Furthermore, he is considered one of the best practitioners of scat singing, which involves vocal jazz soloing. For his work as a lyricist, jazz critic and historian Leonard Feather called him the "Poet Laureate of Jazz" while Time dubbed him the "James Joyce of Jive." Al Jarreau has called him "pound-for-pound the best jazz singer on the planet-maybe that's ever been".
Born in 1921 in Newark, Ohio, young Jon and his 14 siblings were moved many times, following their father's assignments as an A.M.E. pastor, before settling permanently in Toledo. As a teenager, Jon's first interest was in the drums, but before long he was singing on the radio regularly with another Toledo native, pianist Art Tatum.
Four uniquely talented and musically successful vocalists from the West Coast, each with independent careers in the music industry, were thrust together at several Northwest jazz festivals in 1993, and a quartet emerged! Just 4 Kicks' Kirby Shaw, from Ashland, Oregon, is one of the most well-known choral and vocal jazz composers/arrangers of our time. Randy Crenshaw is among the first-call studio singers and arrangers in Los Angeles. Four Freshmen alumnus Kirk Marcy directs the internationally-acclaimed vocal jazz ensemble Soundsation at Edmonds Community College, just north of Seattle. Vijay Singh, widely known for his versatility as a composer, arranger, soloist, and director of the vocal jazz program at Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington, rounds out the quartet.
Originally christened "America's First Family of Song" in the 1960's, The King Family, comprised of "big band era" greats The King Sisters, guitar virtuoso Alvino Rey and the 32 sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, aunts, uncles and children that made up their extended musical family, catapulted to fame following just two dazzling appearances on ABC-TV's The Hollywood Palace to become one of the most popular and beloved television, recording and concert acts of the 1960's and 70's.
Acclaim from audiences and critics alike for their 'Palace' appearances led to their first headlining television special, The Family is King, in 1964. That special's ratings-topping popularity landed the musical group its own weekly ABC-TV showcase, The King Family Show, during 1965 and 1966. An audience favorite, the series featured the entire musical family in various groupings --The King Sisters - who'd already established themselves as one of the nation's top vocal groups, and the next generation's contingent The King Cousins, featuring Tina Cole who went on to star as "Katie Douglas" on CBS' My Three Sons, along with the irrepressible King Kiddies whose musical talent and effortless comedic timing were a staple of these tune-filled hours.
The Kirby Stone Four were one of those ubiquitous white vocal ensembles that seemed to pop up everywhere in the 1950s, drawing on several musical genres and melding them into an attractive pop sound -- they displayed a harder, more complex, and occasionally provocative edge than most of their rivals, which, along with their selection of repertoire, helped distinguish them from the pack. Though never as conspicuously successful as, say, the Four Freshmen, the Kirby Stone Four generated a series of singles and a small number of albums that evoke their era about as well as those of the Four Freshmen, the Lettermen, et al., with a very upbeat, swinging sound not too far removed from the music that Frank Sinatra was making around the same time -- though Sinatra would probably never have stood still for the occasional novelty-type tunes that they recorded.
In 1962 Ross, tired of touring, called it quits. Lambert and Hendricks choose Yolande Bavan for the impossible job of replacing Ross. Lambert, Hendricks & Bavan recorded three albums for RCA. None were as successful as those of the previous trio, and the group broke up in 1964. Sadly, Dave Lambert was killed in a car accident in 1966. Jon Hendricks continues to perform. Annie Ross also continued singing and working in films. Though they only graced the musical landscape for a few short years, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross left an indelible mark in the world of vocal jazz that has yet to be equaled to this day.