Until this book came out, there was not much for vocalists interested in learning scatting and vocal improvisation. We used to copy the masters, and steal from the instrumentalists. But now, we have a source.
Stoloff writes in a logical manner, explaining ideas before presenting them musically. He begins with rhythmic etudes, helping the student to develop their swing and accents and syncopation and triplets in a vocalist-friendly manner. These first 4 etudes should not be skipped over, since they are the foundation of the rest of the book.
From here, Stoloff adds syllable warmups to get the mouth working around this more rhythmic craft of using "nonsense" syllables rather than words. The progression then leads us to increasingly more difficult melodic patterns that continue to build on the rhythmic skills from the first section. And rather than just presenting random patterns, he is helping the ear learn the differences from a straight to a swung feel, and from "Latin" to Funk.
We are encouraged to think like an instrumentalist. Of course, there is much left out of this book, as far as jazz theory, and many vocalists are not going to fully understand the logic behind the study of II-V and II-V-I patterns. But since that is not what this book is about, I give a pass to the author for not including it. The student should become familiar with basic jazz keyboarding skills so that they can accompany them-self, and should understand modal ideas from at least a theoretical perspective. It is rather important to practice these exercises within the context of the chord changes.
The section on melodic embellishments is perfect in that it starts with short one-measure licks which are presented in sequence. Practiced at length and until a level of fluidity is reached, the vocalist is provided with brand new colors with which to paint their musical landscape.
From here, the author presents skills such as bass-lines, with which I might have started, but he does present them simply and clearly in conjunction with a melodic line. And the book is summarized with a close look at specific styles such as blues, "rhythm changes", and even vocal percussion.
The recording is easy to follow and good-quality. It provides guidance for the student when they aren't sure which direction to go in.
I would recommend that this book be used in conjunction with an excellent coach or teacher. It is not really the kind of book that a beginner, without basic musical skills, would be able to self-teach with. But for anyone with basic to advanced skills, it is highly valuable. All voice teachers should own this book, no matter their preferred style.
Singer. voice teacher. musician. music lover. lover of God. worshiper. student of life. perpetual explorer.