Singing jazz takes a lot of technique, practice, and dedication to the craft. Although it might not feel like it at times, jazz music actually has a lot of rules. Because of this, singers need to follow similar patterns and techniques set by the greats that came before them. For those looking to improve their jazz vocal abilities, here are some tips.
In jazz, tone is everything. The female jazz singer can be breathy and light, or deeper and raspy. Individual singers should feel encouraged to explore tones that come naturally to them. However, the object of singing jazz is to be as smooth as possible. Singers should listen to their favorite records and sing along to get comfortable with the tone they’re going for. Tone is different than pitch, because it focuses on the sonic quality instead of the tuning.
Vibrato is extremely important. Professional singers can utilize breathing techniques within their diaphragms to create rhythmic trails on the ends of notes. Vibrato is more common in jazz than it is in pop, and singers should at least know how to execute good vibrato when needed.
Although jazz might seem like it has loose notes that sound sour, each note is carefully placed. The same goes for the female jazz singer. If the song calls for vocal slides and loose runs, the singer should implement those style choices. However, as a general rule, singers should always try to get as close to being on pitch as possible. This ensures that the musical accompaniment fits with the vocals and that no one sounds unprepared or unskilled.
Jazz often uses several musical scales at the same time. Singers should be aware of this and be able to switch scales to flow with the accompaniment. Because jazz uses almost every scale, singers should be able to follow pitch and sing on scales that work for the song, not against it.