The Swingle Singers – Bach Swingle Style (Phillips 6444 500)

In the early 1970s I had the great good fortune to see the Swingle Singers perform at the Memorial Theater in Mount Vernon, Ohio. Quite why this classical jazz Anglo/French a capella septet led by eponymous American arranger Ward Swingle made their way to the backwaters of Knox County, I’m not sure, but I was a big fan.  I even met der Swingle himself.*  The Swingle Singers’ schtick is to sing classical or folk melodies wordlessly to a jazz beat.  Their sound is unique and once you hear it, it is impossible not to recognise a second time. Inevitably, however, my head was turned by “rock” and “popular” music and I left the Swingles behind.

Fast forward to 2007 when I heard a Swingle Singers documentary on BBC Radio 2 on the drive from Bristol back to Kent and I remembered: I love the freakin’ Swingles!

As a result, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled for hot Swingle action and I’ve been rewarded several times including the present album under consideration, a compilation of Bach pieces from various albums including the debut, Jazz Sebastian Bach.  Now, I know I’ve said that, for aesthetic reasons, I don’t buy budget labels (this being on the Phillips’ International Series imprint), but for the Swingles, I make exceptions.  (Another of my Swingles albums, the excellent summit meeting with the Modern Jazz Quartet called Place Vendome, is on Contour!)  Actually, the sleeve isn’t so bad, especially compared to the other Value For Money albums advertised on the back, e.g. This Is…Andy Williams and This Is…Paul Mauriat.

*according to my dad.

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Published in: on August 27, 2010 at 8:38 am  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. i started buying swingles records on your recommendation – i found this very one about 3/4 months ago, just hadn’t gotten around to blogging it yet.

  2. Wondering whether you might give our very latest album ‘Ferris Wheels’ a try – its all singer/song-writer material such as Joni mitchell, James Tayor, The Beach Boys, Annie Lennox etc.

    Mr. Swingle himself has said its one of his favourite albums to date…

    Jo Eteson
    The Swingle Singers

  3. Thank you for the heads up Jo. Beach Boys v. Swingles, makes sense to me; particularly if it’s the end bit to “God Only Knows”. But one important question: Is it on vinyl?

  4. […] someone who has gone on record as a fan of the Swingle Singers, it pains me to report that Rags And All That Jazz is truly wretched from conception to execution. […]


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