How Can the Jazz Singer Improvise Through Vocalecosystems?


  • Jeri Brown Concordia University


Knowledge of vocal improvised music, whether demonstrated by high or low obscure pitch sounds, the beating of the chest while making music sounds, vocal pitch matching or vocal animation with or without the use of technology, has paved the way for a steady stream of vocal artists through the years, each dedicated to vocal exploration. While jazz vocal improvisation appears on the surface to involve few or no rules, it is a form of communication between artist and listener, where the artist adheres to a set of rules or principles. Here the jazz improviser is treated as part of an ecosystem, a concept in the biological sciences that comprises a set of interacting organisms and environments in a particular place. Within the jazz vocal improvisational ecosystem there are various roles, approaches and activities. What follows is a description showing how the analogy with biological ecosystems can be applied to a ‘vocal ecology’ and how this viewpoint may also aid the improvising jazz vocalist in artistic expression.

Author Biography

Jeri Brown, Concordia University

Through her rich and accessible professional career, Professor Jeri Brown has earned a reputation as one of jazz's most outstanding "artistic" vocalists. She is focused, ambitious, daring and intent on creating music that is both well conceived and honest. Professor Brown is well known for performing and recording with passion and dedication. Committed to the legacy of vocal jazz, her performances fill the historical spectrum of classic American songbook themes, original jazz compositions, and contemporary world themes with intense vocal improvisations, and include collaborations with diverse, legendary jazz artists.
Professor Brown has performed or recorded with such musicians as Leon Thomas, John Hicks, Grady Tate, Kirk Lightsey, Betty Carter, Ellis Marsalis, Erik Truffaz, David Murray, D.D. Jackson, Billy Hart, Kenny Werner, Pierre Michelot, John Betsch, Onaje Allan Gumbs, Fred Hersch, Tony Suggs, Michel Donato, Winard Harper, Chico Freeman, Joe Lovano, Cyrus Chestnut, Dr. Billy Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Avery Sharpe, Rufus Reid, Gerry Gibbs, Seamus Blake and Jimmy Rowles.
Her areas of specialization at Concordia include both jazz, vocal studies, fine arts management and world music history.