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Book Review: Vocal Complete: Female Voice Jazz Standards by Alfred Publishing

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In my 26 years of performing, I’ve had my share of successful (and horrifying) auditions. Little is as soul-crushingly terrifying as standing alone in front of a table full of people and opening your mouth to sing. When you forget the lyrics (did that), practiced the song in the wrong key (did that), or realize that you really don’t know the song very well (oh yes), you leave the audition with the inevitable haunted feeling that you could have done better.

The new release from Alfred Publishing, Vocal Complete: Female Voice Jazz Standards, aims to eliminate all that stress. Alfred Publishing is a venerable music publishing company, but this book is far superior to their other songbooks currently in my library.

First, the song selection is distinctly superior and specifically tailored to female vocals (there is a male version as well), with 16 classic jazz standards such as Anything Goes, At Last, and Embraceable You. The sheet music is clear and easy to read, also easy to photocopy. Chords are provided for guitar accompaniment and lyric sheets are provided for those who cannot read sheet music.

Each song has two versions: a performance track for learning and an instrumental track for singing along. If you perform live, it’s great to have the option to sing with a CD. Most auditions, however, require you to bring sheet music for their pianist. This book/CD set allows you to arrive fully prepared and confident to sing.

The orchestration for the instrumentals is fully orchestrated, with a real jazz pianist. The vocalists on the CDs are believable with songs popularized by legendary singers such as Ella Fitzgerald and Barbra Streisand. The coolest new feature was the Tune N’ Tempo Changer – on computer, you can customize the key and tempo of each playback track to suit your voice.

The sheet music does match the key of the backing track, which eliminates one long-standing problem for performers: if you can find a recording of the song, it’s often adjusted in key for the singer and does not reflect the original key. Thus, my disastrous audition where I had prepared my song two full steps lower than the sheet music… if only I’d had this book then!

If you love performing classic jazz standards, you need to have this book in your music bag. I know I’ll be using it for my next audition.

Track Listing:
* Anything Goes * At Last * Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered * Cry Me a River * Don’t Rain on My Parade * Dream a Little Dream of Me * Embraceable You * I Get a Kick Out of You * Misty * My Funny Valentine * Over the Rainbow * Someone to Watch Over Me * Summertime * They Can’t Take That Away From Me * Whatever Lola Wants * When I Fall in Love

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About Anna Meade