The ten best female jazz vocalists of all time

Categories: Lists

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Wikimedia/William P. Gottlieb

In jazz discussions, the saxophonists and the trumpeters generally dominate the conversation, and rightly so. Equally as integral to the music, though, is the rest of the band. While we've already listed the top guitarists, pianists and bassists, today we focus on the female vocalists. Although there are a number of exceptional voices worthy of consideration, these are the ten best female jazz vocalists of all time.

See also: Ten essential jazz albums if you know squat about jazz

Blossom Dearie
Blossom Dearie may not have had been able to do vocal gymnastics like some of the others on this list, but she made up for that with her warm, wispy and girlish vocal delivery. Her understated, yet skilled piano playing worked quite well under her singing, particularly on her Verve recordings of the 1950s, including her excellent 1959 self-titled album.

Peggy Lee
While Peggy Lee might be forever known for her sultry version of "Fever," which she recorded in 1958, before that she had already had a two-year stint singing in Benny Goodman's big band in the early '40s and had released a number of solo recordings under her own name throughout the '40s and '50s, including the wonderful 1956 album, Black Coffee, which features some great takes on the title track and Cole Porter's "I've Got You Under My Skin."

Carmen McRae
A great singer, composer and pianist, Carmen McRae got an early start singing with Benny Carter, Count Basie and Mercer Ellington in the mid '40s, but it was her solo albums of the 1950s, like Torchy! and Blue Moon that helped push her into the spotlight. She released a number of fine albums throughout the next four decades, including the wonderful 1988 release, Carmen Sings Monk, which features Denver's own Eric Gunnison on piano.


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