Al Jarreau: the acrobat of scat – How To Scat!

  • LEARN TO SING JAZZ, online jazz vocal course, learn to sing jazz, how to, lessons, voice, jazz voice, program, JAZZ SINGERS ACADEMY, Ilse Huizinga

“Does anyone want to go waltzing in the garden?” Yes, please. Of course! Anytime. Even at 8:30 am. When the Spanish sun is still warming up the endless mountains. When the oranges are being peeled and the coffee is freshly brewed.

Party time. How I love the joyous energy of my summer workshops in Spain. And I love jazz, but in summer I’m a slave to the rhythm of Chaka Khan, Grace Jones and Justin Timberlake. When the days are long, the nights warm and your dreams everlasting.

So when the groove starts, I’m in. Be it at breakfast, during the coffee break or at the pool. “Does anyone want to go dance upon the roof?”

The Acrobat of Scat Al Jarreau (1940 – 2017) surely knew how to move. He was an American singer and musician, who received a total of seven Grammy Awards. He holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a master in vocational rehabilitation, but became the star attraction at the Sausalito night club Gatsby’s which contributed in his decision to make professional singing his life and full-time career.

He toured the world with Joe Sample, Chick Corea, Miles Davis, George Duke and George Benson, among others. And he was a regular guest at the North Sea Jazz Festival.

Among his most commercially successful albums is Breakin’ Away (1981) on which you’ll find “We’re In This Love Together” and “Roofgarden”.

Of course we all know this break:

Di be doo de deeeee

Di be dode’ndibe doo doo

(Or something like that.)

One of the best ways to learn how to scat is to imitate a solo that you are attracted to. Then… Replay, replay, replay. Find out the exact words he uses in his scat. Paraphrase his timing like your life depended on it.

Maybe don’t stretch it too far (personally, I wouldn’t start with Michael Brecker’s solo on Straphangin’- I’m almost sure you know it?). So start with a ballad, a medium slow song and follow the lines.

You could also learn a solo by instrumentalists such as Chet Baker, Stan Getz or Buddy de Franco. Their lines are mostly very melodic and “singer friendly.”

Enjoy your first steps into the world of improvisation! Or, if you have been scatting your whole life, get back to this fantastic exercise now and then and find new inspiration.

Now I’m home from Spain and off to waltz in the Amsterdam rain.

Shoo badillya doo.

With love,

Ilse

About the Author:

Dutch jazz singer Ilse Huizinga is listed as one of the 500 best jazz singers of all times. In Scott Yanow’s (Downbeat) “The Jazz Singers, the ultimate guide”. To date, she has 8 albums and over 25 years of experience performing and coaching worldwide.
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