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Ward Swingle

Born: 1927. Died: 2015. Lived in: United States

Ward Swingle was the product of an unusually liberal musical education. In his hometown, Mobile, Alabama, he grew up with the sound of jazz and played in one of the great Big Bands before finishing High School. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cincinnati Conservatory and studied piano with the celebrated Walter Gieseking in postwar France. In Paris in the sixties he was a founding member of the fabled Double Six of Paris, then took the scat singing idea and applied it to the works of Bach, hence The Swingle Singers, whose early recordings won five Grammies.

When the Paris group disbanded in l973, Ward Swingle moved to London and formed an English group, expanding the repertoire to include classical and avang-garde works along with the scat and jazz vocal arrangements.

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Arrangements | Recordings

Recordings and DVDs

Displaying 1-8 of 8 items.


Swingle Singers : Jazz Sebastian Bach Vol II : 00  1 CD : DCA542553.2

Swingle Singers : Jazz Sebastian Bach Vol II

This CD is a real treat for Swingles fans, as well as those just getting turned on to them, the original French Swingle Singers, featuring Ward himself doing all the arrangements and singing with the group! For those who are new to the Swingles, these are classic Bach pieces performed incredibly, unbelievably by voices only, singing in a seamless "scat-singing" style. Since their first record these 8 singers became, if possible, even more polished and refined in the years that separated the two volumes the Swingles were voted "Best Vocal Group in the World" several times. These are some of their best-known works: from the Fugue in G Major for organ, to the Concerto in D minor for 2 violins, the Choral from the Cantata BMV 147 to the Prelude in C major. Don't be misled by the names, this is all a cappella, with the exception of almost imperceptible drums. In the liner notes we find fascinating little odds and ends about the 10 pieces and such details as an "Ave Maria" being slipped into the score here or there. But know that this is marvelously original and inventive music and that the Swingles have remained true to the spirit that Bach instilled in his works, a profoundly human fervor and a joyously optimistic faith. As we know Johan Sebastian would, enjoy!

Songlist: Vivace, Prelude and Fugue No. 10 in E minor, Choral, Gavotte, Prelude and Fugue No. 1 in C major, Fugue in G major, Adagio, Prelude and Fugue No. 3 in C sharp major, Choral, Fugue No. 21 in B flat major

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4443c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella


Swingle Singers : Going Baroque : 00  1 CD : 5467462

Swingle Singers : Going Baroque

Ward Swingle's Swingle Singers were formed in 1962, and stepped into the vocal jazz spotlight bigtime with the success of their first album, which was based entirely on Ward's groundbreaking vocal scat interpretations of the works of Johann Sebastian Bach. On this their second album, seven of the 12 tunes are again by Johann - but to the Swingles, their homage could only be complete if they included by works of Johann's family and friends, composers who viewed Bach as their Master. Thus we are treated to the marvelous vocal gymnastics of the Swingles on pieces by Bach's two sons, Carl and Wilhelm, Handel (spelled "Haendel" in the liner notes) and Vivaldi. We are immediately drawn into the surprising power of Bach's "Badinerie" where the voices, accompanied by light, driving jazz snare drum, dance like frantic, harmonic dragonflies over the surface of a pond for a minute and 19 seconds and then are gone. Also fun and fast-moving are Bach's "Praeambulum," and "Solfegietto in C Minor," Handel's "Allegro" and Vivaldi's "Fugue." Particularly sweet and melodic are Bach's "Largo," based on his harpsichord concerto, and Wilhelm F. Bach's "Der Fruehling." It's easy to see why the Swingles created such a sensation with their voices-as-orchestra, push-the-envelope style, which sounds as fresh and revolutionary today. We would like to imagine Bach and friends in a heavenly music room, putting on headphones and grooving on this hip homage to their music!

Songlist: Badinerie - Johann Sebastian Bach, Aria And Variations: "The Harmonious Blacksmith" (Handel), Giga- Johann Sebastian Bach, Largo (Bach), Prelude No. 19 In A Major (Bach), Praeambulum (Bach), Fugue (Vivaldi), Allegro (Handel), Prelude No. 7 In E Flat Major (Bach), Solfegietto In C Minor (CPE Bach), Der Fruehling (Spring) WF Bach), Prelude No. 24 In B Minor (Bach)

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4481c | 1 CD | $13.98 | A Cappella


Swingle Singers : Jazz Sebastien Bach : 00  1 CD : verv 24703

Swingle Singers : Jazz Sebastien Bach

This is it! The original Les Swingle Singers, arranged and conducted by Ward Swingle. Half of this rerelease was from the l963 recording which won a Grammy for "Best Performance by a Chorus." The first Jazz Sebastian Bach was a 1968 album called Bach's Greatest Hits here in the US where Les Swingles won a Grammy in the category "Best New Artist." You'll find over sixty-five minutes of jazz/Bach sung with only the bass and drum (mostly snare) to accentuate rhythm. They became world renown because scat is an understandable language everywhere in it. None of Bach's work has been changed, not a note added or taken away! This is not improvisation (though two pieces were transposed to accommodate vocal range).

Songlist: Fugue En Re Minuer, Prelude Pour Choral D'Orgue No. 1, Aria, Prelude En Fa Majeur, Bourree, Fugue En Do Minuer Fugue En Re Majeur, Prelude No. 9, Sinfonia, Prelude En Do Majeur, Canon, Invention en Do Majeur, Fugue En Re Majeur, Vivace, Prelude Et Fugue En Mi Mineur, Choral De La Cantate, Gavotte, Prelude Et Fugue En Do Majeur, Fugue En Sol Majeur, Adagio, Prelude Et Fugue En Do Diese Majeu, Prelude Du Choral D'Orgue, Fugue No.21 Du Prelude Et Fugue En Si Bemol Majeur BWV 866

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6206c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella


Swingle Singers : Around the World Folk Songs : 00  1 CD : 743284

Swingle Singers : Around the World Folk Songs

Simply put, the early success of Ward Swingle's Singers in the world of jazz is a result of their applying scat singing (a vocal technique using nonsense syllables started by Louis Armstrong in 1926 when his songsheet with the words fell on the floor while recording) to incongruous well-known music, such as the orchestral and organ music of J.S. Bach. In "Around The World" the Swingles apply scat to folk songs from around the world with a result as fresh and surprising as their first hit, "Bach Hits Back." The instruments they scat in this generous, sumptious CD (over an hour, 20 songs) include flutes of the Andes on the lovely opening cut, "Cachapaya," the banjo in the American medley "Country Dances" and the didgeridoo in a lilting "Waltzing Matilda." The combination of words and vocal "instruments" create another winning, unique sound for the Swingles. Some other favorites: "Star of the County Down" from Ireland, Scotland's "Loch Lomond," "The Ash Grove" from Wales, "Joshua fought the battle of Jericho," England's haunting "Bushes and Briars"... actually, there's not a weak track here!

Songlist: Cachapaya (Peru), Star of the County Down (Ireland), El paisanito (Argentina), De punta y taco (Chile), The Ash Grove (Wales), David of the White Rock (Wales), The Drunken Sailor (England), Ciao bella ciao (Italy), L'Amour de moi (France), Country Dances (USA), Waltzing Matilda (Austrailia), Danny boy (Ireland), Charlie is My Darling (Scotland), Loch Lomond (Scotland), The Salley Gardens (England), Joshua fought the battle of Jericho Spiritual, Viel Freuden mit sich bringet (Germany), Bushes and Briers (England), Sakkijarven Polka( Finland), Vem kan segla (Sweden)

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6208c | 1 CD | $15.98 | A Cappella


Swingle Singers : Anyone For Mozart, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi? : 00  1 CD : verve 26948

Swingle Singers : Anyone For Mozart, Bach, Handel, Vivaldi?

This is the second CD which, along with Jazz Sebastian Bach, are the rereleases of the early Les Swingle Singers who were a world renown phenomena. Ward Swingle's original intent had been to sing exact vocal versions of big band classics. All of the original octet had been classically trained musicians, most with perfect pitch. They sang Bach merely for practice to improve their sight reading and musicianship.The idea of 'swinging it' (jazzing it up) came later after the bass and drums were added. This fortuitous evolution leaves us with a wonderful compilation of "Swingleized" works by Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi and Bach, mostly Mozart's and Bach's work.

Songlist: Sonata No. 15 (Mozart), Ah! Vous Dirais-Je Maman (Mozart), Allegro (Sonata No.14, Mozart), Fugue (Sonata No. 37, Mozart), Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (Mozart), Badinerie (Bach), Air (Harpsichord Suite In E, Handel), Gigue (Cello Suite In C, Bach), Largo (Harpsichord Concerto In F, Bach), Prelude No. 19 (Well Tempered Clavier, Bach) , Preambule (Partitia No. 5 in G, Bach) , Fugue (Estro Harmonico, Op.3, No.11, Vivaldi), Prelude No. 7 (Well Tempered Clavier, Bach) , Solfeggietto (Bach), Der Fruhling (Bach), Prelude No. 24 (Well Tempered Clavier, Bach)

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6211c | 1 CD | $14.98 | A Cappella


Swingle Singers : Sinfonia NPS : 00  1 CD : EAO45228.2

Swingle Singers : Sinfonia NPS

Eclectic, surprising composer Luciano Berio, born in 1925, wrote "Sinfonia," for eight voices and orchestra as a surreal, often dissonant interplay between voices and instruments in six parts, "I-", "II-O King," "III"-In ruhig fliessender Bewegung," "IV-", "V-" (Regis Pasquier, violin solo, New Swingle Singers, conducted by Ward Swingle, and "Eindrucke." A strange and powerful collection by the eclectic Berio, beautifully performed by the interaction of choral and instrumental giants.

Songlist: I -, II - O King, III - In ruhig fliessender Bewegung, IV -, V - (Featuring New Swingle Singers; conductor: Ward Swingle), Ein Drucke

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7977c | 1 CD | $15.98 | Accompanied


Swingle Singers with The Modern Jazz Quartet : Place Vendome : 00  1 CD

Swingle Singers with The Modern Jazz Quartet : Place Vendome

This is an absolute classic Swingle Singers recording and a must for every collector. Ward and his singers collaborated with the The Modern Jazz Quartet on this fabulous recording and was a big hit when it was released in 1966.j

Songlist: Sascha (Little David's Fugue), Aria , Vendome, Ricercare 2 to 6, Dido's Lament, Alexander's Fugue, Three Windows

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7671c | 1 CD | $14.95 | A Cappella


Ward Swingle : Swingle Singing : Video

Ward Swingle : Swingle Singing

Ward Swingle was the product of an unusually liberal musical education. In his hometown, Mobile, Alabama, he grew up with the sound of jazz and played in one of the great Big Bands before finishing high school. He graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Cincinnati Conservatory and studied piano with the celebrated Walter Gieseking in postwar France. In Paris in the sixties he was a founding member of the fabled Double Six of Paris, then took to the scat singing idea and applied it to the works of Bach, hence The Swingle Singers ("The Mod Squad of Baroque Music"), whose early recordings won five Grammies. In this video Ward Swingle shares his world-renowned 'Swingle Singing' methods by conducting an a cappella master class with eight talented singers from the San Francisco Bay Area. With his instruction, guidance and example they learn and perform four of his arrangements, giving the at-home viewer practice and insight into these techniques -- techniques that have made Ward one of the most influential figures in vocal music in the Twentieth Century.

Songlist: Breathing, Scat Syllables, Mike Techniques, Unisons, Syncopation, High Notes and Low Notes, Phrasing, Pronunciation, Special Effects

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4810v | Video | $12.98 | A Cappella

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