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What makes someone a jazz vocalist?

I love Helen Merrill's recordings from the mid- to late-1950s; their aesthetic really captures the era for me.

Anyway, I've always wondered: what makes someone a jazz vocalist (as opposed to a pop vocalist)? In today's music the question is self-evident, but in the 1950s it seems more ambiguous. Did it have to do with how they marketed themselves, or the musicians that backed them (eg Clifford Brown in the case of Helen Merrill)? Obviously Judy Garland was not a jazz vocalist, but she sang a lot of jazz standards.

I suppose Nat King Cole is an even better example, because some of his recordings were "jazz" and others were "pop." But did his vocal style itself change?

Thank you in advance, DL, for helping my unsophisticated ear understand.

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by Anonymousreply 605/24/2020

Improvisation.

by Anonymousreply 105/24/2020

They’re a jazz vocalist when they sing jazz, or other music in the style of jazz.

by Anonymousreply 205/24/2020

But r1/r2 how was eg Helen Merrill singing in the style of jazz? Maybe I'm obtuse.

by Anonymousreply 305/24/2020

If they identify as a jazz vocalist, they are a jazz vocalist.

by Anonymousreply 405/24/2020

Blue notes and improvisation.

by Anonymousreply 505/24/2020

Good question OP. I have so much respect for an Ella who can improvise song along with a band. One type of singing I love to see in person at the Blue Note or NYC jazz clubs,

by Anonymousreply 605/24/2020
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