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Bing Crosby

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SjangerPop, Jazz, Christian
AboutAnother icon whose film and television success, and status as a beloved entertainer and celebrity obscured his musical impact. Crosby wasn't in the strictest sense a jazz singer, and through much of his career recorded everything but jazz. Still, this was the style in which he began, and he retained interest in the music, utilizing it when and where he could. He did display excellent vocal jazz skills around 1930, and was also a fine scat singer. Crosby played drums and sang with small jazz groups as a boy. In 1926 Crosby, Al Rinker (Mildred Bailey's brother) and Harry Barris started The Rhythm Boys. They sang with Paul Whiteman's orchestra from 1926 to 1930, then Crosby began his solo career. Crosby's greatest contribution was his ability to understand and exploit the microphone. He was the first vocalist to use it in a manner that personalized songs, and made them intimate experiences for individual listeners. His projection, enunication and performances on the microphone changed the course of popular music singing. He was among the earliest crooners, sometimes seeming to talk or whisper to a melody. Greatly influenced by Louis Armstrong, Crosby exposed to the white audience techniques that were commonplace among black vocalists; singing on consonants, and devices like slurs he'd learned from such artists as Harry Mills. He'd ease the weight of breath on the vocal cords by passing into a primary or head voice at a low register. Crosby scored enormous successes in films from the early '30s on, in both musical and dramatic settings; "The Birth of the Blues" in 1941 was (very) loosely based on The Original Dixieland Jazz Band story, and featured an appearance by Jack Teagarden. Crosby appeared with Louis Armstrong in the 1956 film "High Society" and recorded with him in 1960. He toured with such players as Milt Hinton and Joe Bushkin, and employed jazz musicians often on his television specials. His image as the kindly neighborhood singer took a huge hit from a book published by his son Gary, but his impact on music and jazz foundation shouldn't be underestimated. ~ Ron Wynn and Cub Koda, All Music Guide

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