Welcome to the 7th instalment of Book Love: a series in which I tell you all about the resources, guides, and inspirational books that I love. Today’s book is Singers & The Song by Gene Lees.
Gene Lees is a Canadian music critic, biographer, singer and lyricist. He is responsible for the English language lyrics to many tunes by Antonio Carlos Jobim, including the popular Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado). Singers & The Song is a collection of essays about vocal jazz including biographical looks at important singers and songwriters (Edith Piaf, Johnny Mercer, and Frank Sinatra to name a few), the evolution of the English language and it’s use in vocal jazz lyrics, and the cultural links between the dance band, the rise of radio, and the fall of the electric train transit system.
This book solidified Lees’ reputation as one of the finest jazz writers of his time and it’s easy to see why. Each essay is more intensely interesting than the last. Reading them has changed the way I think about vocal jazz by helping me understand the historical legacy to which we’re all a part of. For instance, in his first essay, Lees talks about how the etymology of individual jazz lyrics fit into a broader cultural context and reflects the moral attitudes of the time. I never considered how unusual it is for the canon of jazz standards to be made up of almost nothing but puritanical, sexless love (not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just almost never the case in real life).
It seems even more absurd when contrasted with the topic of Lees’ second essay: the music of Edith Piaf. Piaf sings about issues that American jazz standards never even get close to like prostitution (with Love For Sale being the obvious exception), stalking, death, and juvenile sexuality.
And all that is just the tip of the iceberg. I found myself having a paradigm shifting moment practically every few pages. This book came out in 1987 and in an expanded second edition in1999 with an additional seven essays included.
That’s it for Book Love // 07. Let me know what you’re reading in the comments. You can also check out the last post in the series, The Private Voice Studio Handbook.
Yay! Another giveaway! Thanks to the generosity of two wonderful jazz vocalists, I’m giving away another awesome CD bundle to one lucky reader. This bundle includes Ilana Waldston’s I could laugh out loud and Champian Fulton’s Champian Sings and Swings. These CDs are so fresh they both still have that new car smell. Champian’s CD came out just last month and Ilana’s CD came out in November 2012.
1. Follow both singers on facebook or twitter:
Ilana Waldston: facebook | twitter
Champian Fulton: facebook | twitter
2. Leave a comment below.
This giveaway will close at 11:59pm on Tuesday, March 26th and the draw winner will be required to answer a skill testing question.
That’s it! Good luck!
This contest is now closed. Congrats to Kat Dillon! Stay tuned for more amazing CD bundle giveaways!
Yay! Thanks to the generosity of three amazing vocalists, I’m giving away a great CD bundle to one lucky reader. The bundle includes Amy Cervini’s Digging Me Digging You, Kellylee Evans’ Nina, and Nicky Schrire’s Freedom Flight.
1. Follow the three singers on facebook or twitter:
Amy Cervini: facebook | twitter
Kellylee Evans: facebook | twitter
Nicky Schrire: facebook | twitter
2. Leave a comment below.
The contest will close at 11:59pm on Tuesday, January 29th and the draw winner will be required to answer a skill testing question.
That’s it! These three wonderful women are all jazz singer friends of mine and I’m so happy that I get the chance to share their music with you. Good luck!
This giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Robert B Rucker! Stay tuned for more amazing CD bundle giveaways!
This week has been completely non-stop and go go go. I embraced that in my last mixtape: Taking Care of Business – a fast-paced mix for running errands in the car and being an all-around biz-lady bad-ass (or BLBA). This week, as the CD release approaches, I feel like I need to spend more time relaxing, unwinding, and preparing my mind and body for an incredible event. That’s why I made Winding Down to Sleep, a mix full of soft, sweet singers who will serenade me to sleep. This mix features Cécile Mclorin-Salvant, Barbra Lica, and Briana Cowlishaw, among others. Enjoy this week’s mix.
1. Two Sleepy People – Silje Nergaard
2. Moody’s Mood For Love – Cécile Mclorin-Salvant
3. P.S. I Love You – Barbra Lica
4. All of You – Mike Tremblay & Mark Ferguson
5. May I Come In? – Amy Cervini
6. A Fine Spring Morning – Blossom Dearie
7. Skylark – Briana Cowlishaw
8. Glad To Be Unhappy – Tierney Sutton
9. Some Other Time – Bill Evans