The Swingle Singers

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The Swingle Singers were a vocal group formed in Paris, France with Ward Swingle, Anne Germain, Jeanette Baucomont, and Jean Cussac. Their first incarnation lasted from 1962 until 1973.

The group, directed primarily by the eponymous Ward Swingle (who once belonged to the French vocal group Double Six) and accompanied by bass and drums, produced complicated, technically impressive covers of music from modern classics (the Beatles) to classical music (Tchaikovsky, Beethoven), to opera (Rossini). Their arrangements were often informed by jazz harmonies and stylings. Other influences included Nat King Cole, various smooth singers and pianists.

The Swingle Singers were active in classical music. A hit for them was Bach's Air On The G String, recorded with the Modern Jazz Quartet. Luciano Berio wrote his postmodern symphony Sinfonia for eight voices and orchestra with them in mind. In 2005 their recording of Bach's Prelude in F Minor was interpolated into the hit single, They, by Jem Griffiths.

The group disbanded in 1973 but has reformed several times since, using different names but continuing Ward Swingle's tradition of jazz-infused arrangements and extreme technical proficiency. They sang with French pop star Etienne Daho on his song "Timide intimité" from his 1996 album Eden, and with the Style Council on their song "The Story of Someone's Shoe" from the 1988 album Confessions of a Pop Group. (Style Council leader Paul Weller claims the song was inspired by the Swingle Singers' 1967 album with the Modern Jazz Quartet, Place Vendome.)

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