Jazz music is inclusive of many styles of singing. Some singers are rhythmic and endeavor to take the place of soloing instruments by scatting. There is a mistaken belief among many relative newcomers to the music that one must scat in order to be a true jazz singer. This is patently not the case. Several innovators of the form never scatted: Billie Holiday, Gloria Lynne, Nancy Wilson, Abbey Lincoln, Ruth Brown, Nat King Cole, Johnny Hartman, Jimmie Scott, Dinah Washington, Dakota Staton, Al Hibbler, Ray Charles, just to name a very, very few. I really could go on. Some scatted rarely, such as the great jazz singers, Carmen McRae and Sarah Vaughan. Of course there were masters of scatting. Ella Fitzgerald had no peer, Betty Carter, put the “bop” in bebop, and was a master at deconstructing the melody. And then there was the incomparable Louis Armstrong who may have actually invented scatting. I heard the venerable bass player, Rufus Reid, once say that people really appreciated it when a singer simply sang the melody, in a beautiful and unforgettable way, instead of showing off how clever they think they are with inappropriate scatting. A singer who scats masterfully can knock your socks off; one who scats poorly leaves you disappointed.

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