Greetings. I’m Jazzmeia Horn
and I’m here to talk about Ella Fitzgerald and the legacy of scat singing and improvisation. Ella Fitzgerald is one of the most important
jazz singers — or singers in jazz music — and she’s important because she’s known
for her improvisational skills and her storytelling. And she’s also called the lady of song. She was very childlike and fun and playful in what she did, and she made her own
and created her own legacy. There were no other singers on the scene
in 1934, ’35, ’36 doing what she was doing. And
one of the things that I took from Ella Fitzgerald was some of her phrasing and
a little bit of her vocabulary. And what that does is help to build your own
vocabulary. There is one song in particular that she really made famous,
which is entitled “Blue Skies,” and one of the phrases that she sang during her
scat solo sounded like this. [Scat singing] And what I did was listen to that and try to listen
to her phrasing and her sound and why she chose to sing certain syllables and put
emphasis on which downbeat and which phrase. [Scat singing] That is something that is hard to explain, but if you sit down and you listen and
listen and listen and listen and get it into your soul and get it into your
belly, eventually you’ll be able to improvise over chord changes and start to understand
structure and form and phrasing and diction. I’m particularly inspired by Ella Fitzgerald because of her sound and the quality of her sound
and the way she expressed herself when she was scat singing. It’s very fun and
interesting and inspiring, but we don’t have the same style at all.
I’m here in 2019 as a scat singer or as an improvisational musician expressing
myself in a different way as the times are different, but the music is somewhat
still the same. And I like to say that I am continuing the legacy or the
tradition of vocal improvisation. And now I’m going to show you exactly what I
mean by sharing with you a little bit of my way of improvising. And in the studio
today I have my friend Barry Stephenson, who is also going to join me on the bass. And we’re gonna play “Blue Skies.” [Bass playing] Blue days, all of ’em gone nothing but blue skies from now on. [Scat singing] Blue skies smiling at me. Nothing but blue skies do I see. Blue days, all of ’em gone. Bluebirds singing a song. All day from now on. I am very grateful for Ella Fitzgerald
and what she has done in the world and the music that she’s put out into the
universe. And one thing that she did was just held her own, you know.
She stepped out on the scene and approached the changes just like an
instrumentalist would, and that’s very rare even in society today. You know, you hear really beautiful singers
and they sing melodies really well. But Ella could not only sing a melody, she could scat
the hell out of some chord changes and sound just like an instrumentalist that
is not a vocalist. So, you know, that’s what you want to aim for when you’re
improvising. You want to be inspired — possibly by Ella Fitzgerald — and think
about owning your spot in the way that Ella did. Thank you for watching.
I hope you learned something today. And I’m Jazzmeia Horn.
And I’m turning the tables.