Encyclopedia of Jazz Musicians

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Wardell, Anita

Wardell, Anita, vocals (b. Guildford, Surrey, England, August 23, 1961). One of the world's finest scat singers, Anita Wardell is virtually unknown outside of Europe and Australia. Although born in England, her family moved to Australia when she was a child and she spent her formative years there. She was first exposed to jazz through her father's collection of big band recordings, but it wasn't until her high school years that she first considered singing jazz and not until college that she first learned to scat. Unlike most vocalists who improvise by ear, Wardell has a thorough knowledge of chords and scales, and thus can incorporate chromatic harmony into her improvisations with ease. Her recording of "My Shining Hour" includes one of her best scat solos on record. A review of that performance can be found here. Wardell is also accomplished in vocalese, with one of her best efforts being the lyricized Lee Morgan solo from "Moanin'". Now based in London, Wardell won the BBC Best of Jazz award in 2006, and she teaches an annual jazz course in Loire, France. Her website is http://www.anitawardell.com.

Contributor: Thomas Cunniffe