Ward Swingle dies aged 87

American singer Ward Swingle, whose group The Swingle Singers reimagined Bach and Mozart and gave them jazz swing, has died aged 87 in Eastbourne, England.

American singer Ward Swingle, whose group The Swingle Singers reimagined Bach and Mozart and gave them jazz swing, has died aged 87 in Eastbourne, England.

The Swingle Singers sold hundreds of thousands of records, notably albums “Jazz Sebastian Bach” and “Bach’s Greatest Hits,” in 1963. Earlier in 1959, he helped found the vocalese group Les Double Six (The Double Six Of Paris), which sang swing and bebop compositions popularised by Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Woody Herman and Dizzy Gillespie.

Contrary to popular belief Ward Swingle hadn’t changed his name for more professional relevance. This is something he was at pains to correct throughout his life. Although The Swingle Singers were viewed as somewhat gimmicky their vocal virtuosity was widely admired and lauded.

Ward Swingle disbanded the group in 1973, and then re-formed it in England under the names Swingle II and the New Swingle Singers. After writing over 200 arrangements and compositions and recording a dozen albums he stepped down from leading the group, remaining as an adviser to the London based group. He saw the group’s arrangements used on TV shows such as ‘Glee.’

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