In the late 50s a group of singers began informal vocalese jam sessions at the New York apartment of Dave Lambert (19 June 1917, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, d. 3 October 1966, Westport, Connecticut, USA). At these sessions singers would improvise vocal lines in much the same manner as jazz instrumentalists. Ten years previously, Lambert had worked as arranger and singer in Gene Krupas band, recording Whats This?, an early example of a bop vocal. In 1955, Lambert teamed up with Jon Hendricks (b. 16 September 1921, Newark, Ohio, USA) to record a vocalized version of Four Brothers. In 1958, Lambert and Hendricks added to their duo the highly distinctive singer Annie Ross (b. Annabelle Short Lynch, 25 July 1930, Mitcham, Surrey, England) to record the album Sing A Song Of Basie.
The concept of the Lambert, Hendricks And Ross recordings was simple, although highly complex in execution. The singers performed wordless vocal lines, matching the brass and reed section parts of the Count Basie bands popular recordings. With this formula they enjoyed great success in the late 50s and early 60s. In 1962, Ross left the trio and was replaced by Yolanda Bavan (b. 1 June 1940, Colombo, Ceylon). Two years later Lambert also left and soon thereafter the trio concept was abandoned. Subsequently, Lambert worked briefly as a studio arranger before his tragic death in 1966, when he was hit by a passing truck. Nobody has ever matched this incredible style of vocalise. They had grace and style and made complicated singing sound effortless and natural.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.