There is a joke from a category of jazz humor labeled the chick singer file. I hasten to add that there are plenty of non-chick singers to whom the sentiment of the story applies.
A woman asks to sit in with a band. The leader suggests “My Funny Valentine.” She agrees, but confesses that she’s a bit unsure of the bridge.
“That’s okay,” the leader tells her. “You’ll be next to the bass player. He knows it. If you get hung up, just turn to him.”
She approaches a part of the song where she needs help and looks at the bassist. He whispers, “D-minor, C-7, B-7, B-flat major 7.”
The story typifies musicians’ wry amusement and frequent frustration inspired by people without musical knowledge who try to be “jazz singers.” They are especially taken with those who decide they can improvise with their voices in the way that, say, Charlie Parker improvised with his alto saxophone. In her wonderful blog, Carol Sloane writes about the time she was asked to teach at the New England Conservatory and ended up with a brood of would-be scat singers. Here’s an excerpt:
You should not attempt Advanced Calculus (scat singing) until a firm grasp of basic math (chord structure) is achieved. My students much preferred the bungee-jump thrill of diving into wordless versions of “Joy Spring” or “Ornithology”. Yes, I certainly understand the desire to explore improvisational jazz since so many singers with impeccable credentials express themselves in this manner, thereby suggesting to the not-so talented that this activity is easy and without peril. My argument is that scat singing is an acquired attribute developed and nurtured over time. Listening to some blatantly confident but thoroughly unskilled scat singing can be harmful to your health, or (if you’re lucky) hysterically funny.
To read the whole thing go to SloaneView.