Term Paper: Jazz Both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan

Pages: 2 (664 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Music  ·  Buy This Paper

Jazz

Both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan had long careers spanning a variety of jazz genres but especially big band, bebop, and swing. As contemporaries, both Fitzgerald and Vaughan expanded their vocal ranges throughout their multi-decade and highly decorated careers. However, it was during their time spent with big band ensembles that allowed both Vaughan and especially Fitzgerald to develop unique styles and vocalizations such as scat. The complexity of their voices both blends in with and stands apart from their backing bands.

Swing, big band, and bebop developed roughly in chronological order but share enough in common that the lines between the genres are blurry. Of the three genres, bebop can be considered the most progressive and conducive to improvisation. Bebop is also characterized by small ensembles that enable solos, and irregular song lengths, both features that directly contrast with the more formal elements in big band music ("Bebop").

Bebop bands like the one backing up Ella Fitzgerald in her performance of "Mack the Knife" in Stockholm did not necessarily have horn sections like the ones omnipresent among big band and swing ensembles. However, instruments like piano, upright bass, and brushed drums are shared in common among swing, big band, and bebop. All three genres boast strong bass lines and solid song structures.

Thus, Ella Fitzgerald easily translates Bobby Darin's version of "Mack the Knife" into an intimate bebop interpretation. The clip features Ella backed up by a piano, a standup bass, drums, and almost imperceptible jazz guitarist. Although Fitzgerald's delivery in "Mack the Knife" echoes big band sensibilities, she takes charge of the song and interprets it in a unique way. In the absence of any brass or woodwind instruments, Ella's voice carries the entire melody as well as the spaces between it. Fitzgerald does not use her signature scats in this version but does add vocal flourishes to her phrasing. Moreover, Fitzgerald pays homage to big band and swing legends Bobby Darin and Louis Armstrong, both of whom covered… [END OF PREVIEW]

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"Jazz Both Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan."  Essaytown.com.  April 27, 2010.  Accessed August 21, 2019.
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