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The Swingle Singers

A French vocal group famed for tackling all manner of classical material (Baroque, fugues, madrigals, orchestral overtures) and switching them to an a cappella swing setting, the Swingle Singers was formed in Paris during the early '60s by American expatriate Ward Swingle. By the time of their 1963 album debut, the group comprised eight voices -- Swingle, Christiane Legrand (sister of Michel), Jean-Claude Briodin, Anne Germain, Claude Germaine, Jean Cussac, Claudine Meunier and Jeanette Baucomont. That album, Jazz Sebastian Bach (titled Bach's Greatest Hits in America), earned the group a Grammy award and almost made the Top Ten.

The novelty inherent in an eight-voice scatting choir resulted in dozens of television and radio appearances around the world during the mid-'60s. Somehow, the group also managed to record follow-up LPs Going Baroque in 1964 and Anyone for Mozart? one year later. Both were Grammy winners as well -- though Best Performance by a Chorus definitely wasn't the most competitive category at the awards ceremony. In an era when vocal choruses increasingly slipped down the easy listening slope, however, the Swingle Singers moved in precisely the opposite direction. In 1969, a subsidiary group called Swingles II premiered Sinfonia, a composition by the avant-garde composer Luciano Berio that also utilized the New York Philharmonic.

After a move to England in 1973, Ward Swingle recruited a new Swingle Singers and changed musical direction, incorporating material from the avant-garde as well as the Renaissance era and jazz. Swingle himself retired from active performance in 1984, but continued on as music director. The group continued to tour the world into the '90s, performing operas by Azio Corghi and Berio, appearing in compositions with ballet companies, and holding various classes and workshops as well. ~ John Bush, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

Comments

Ifound out about these guys in high school a looooooong time ago. Had a couple of their albums. Very cool. Still cool today!!
Had not heard....sor r y about that! lol!
Listened to the Swingle Singers growing up. My dad was a choir director and this was one of his favorite groups. I had wondered about them through the years and found them here! Had not here the Beatles swingled before. I love it!!
It would be really nice to know more about Ward Swingle. He was from Mobile, AL in the USA.
juliajean17
I like their Blackbird / I Will
markdreimers
I LOVE the Swingles.
Holy smokes! I'm listening to their version of Blackbird right now. Unbelievably gorgeous. The way the Soprano slides up an octave on the phrase into the light of practically killed me with chills down my spine!!
Whats not to love. The Transfer, Steps Ahead. It's all good. Combine the 40's and 50's swing with early rock/blues and
acapella jazz is powerful and awesome! My dad turned me onto this group when I was a youngling, I'm talking baby stages on up. I've been trying to get them online. It's amazing what just voices can do. I'm a big fan!!
b.bergman
I was a DJ on Cornell's WVBR in 1963 when the Swingle Singers were played on another show with some regularly. This was clearly great stuff and I was hooked. And when they moved to jazz interpretati o n s it only broadened their wonderful repertoire. I still listen with the same joy as the first time I heard them. One can hope that their appeal renmains eternal.

Bruce B.
ameroux9
This is gorgeous! How have I never heard of this group before? So few people do original interpretati o n s of the Beatles music; they mostly do blanket covers. This is a wonderful exception.
Dido's Lament from Beauty and the Beatbox was the first song I ever heard... simply amazing! I love this group.. makes me want to sing! :D
Woke up one morning while in college and a guy down the hall was playing one of their baroque albums- very unusual for Auburn- and it immediately put me in a great mood for the day. Terrific to be able to find them again.
keithko0072
They excited my ears as a child and i am glad to come across them on Pandora!
robin2048
Been listening to the Swingles for many years, since the 70's. They have such a great sound. Love their Bach stuff, which lends itself to their style quite well. Long live Ward Swingle!
The Singers Unlimited are the unquestioned experts when it comes to Jazz A Capella vocals. They are the result of the Hi-Lo's Gene Puerling going to Germany, where Jazz had and still has a much wider audience. My most favorite group and arrangements ever.
candycane275
they're pretty talented. but they sometimes have cutoffs that are less sharp than one would hope. But overall, they are one of the better acapella groups out there.
ackerbex3
Wow... these folks get pretty darn close to perfect, as far as I can hear. Fabulous blend, nice song selection, and their soprano parts just soar effortlessly . Excellent.
The Swingle Singers probably paved much of the way for Manhattan Transfer and New York Voices. Happily, all forms of jazz and vocalese are alive and thriving in East Asia. There's a six member group in Singapore called Vocaluptuous that are pretty fine; they opened for New York Voices a couple of years ago. They haven't made it to the PRC yet, that I know of. Shanghai alone probably has more jazz than the West Coast of the USA, but let's face it, that really isn't saying much.
Love Swingle Singers best when they do classical... s o l o i s t doesn't really have jazz chops but they are still excellent and the arrangements are great! After hearing Singers Unlimited the bar is sooo high ...
Yeah I gotta agree... from Manhattan Transfer to Rockapella to Toxic Audio to Swingle singers, they are all great! Unfortunatel y , you never hear them... Too bad they have such a narrow audience base. Other people just don't know what they're missing!
What a delightful sound! Too bad there isn't a broader audience for this beautiful blending of singing voices.
......these a cappella groups of all stripes really fascinate me.......bes i d e s being hard as nails to sing in tune and together.... . . . v a r i e t y of genre is amazing..... . . . w h o woulda thunk....... I am the Walrus?

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