Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

SWINGLE SINGERS, The

Vocal group formed by singer/arranger Ward Lamar Swingle (b 21 September 1927, Mobile AL; d 19 January 2015), who also played piano and alto sax. He gigged locally, got a master's degree in music '51 and a Fulbright scholarship the same year, studying piano in Paris with Walter Gieseking; he taught in Iowa but moved to Paris permanently '56. He worked as an arranger, accompanist, pianist; with vocal groups the Blue Stars, then the Double Six of Paris with Christiane Legrand (sister of Michel). They formed a group to improve their skills, singing Bach fugues etc wordlessly; they added bass and drums and had surprise hit LPs with light music of impressive quality: Bach's Greatest Hits '63 was a top 15 USA; similar Jazz Sebastian Bach in UK '64 (with Pierre Michelot on bass, drummer Guz Wallez), plus Going Baroque '64, Anyone For Mozart? '65, Place Vendôme with the Modern Jazz Quartet '65; later on CBS with Love Songs For Madrigals And Madriguys, others.

They performed and recorded Luciano Berio's post-serial piece Sinfonia (1968-9), in which they sang, whispered or shouted words by Claude Lévi-Strauss and Samuel Beckett. Successor groups continued recording for many years.

Addendum: Singer/pianist/lyricist Mimi Perrin was a founder member of Le Double Six; she died 15 November 2010 in Paris.