Try to get yourself a copy of the Carmen McRae - "The Great American Songbook" - Atlantic Record and I guarantee you you will fall in love immediately. It was a live recording with Carmen interacting with the audiences. Excellent songs selection, excellent singing technique, first rated performance and very good recording. I owned this CD/LP since 1991 and I still listen to it very often.
Also you should try any Nat King Cole - Capitol Record.
Females; Dinah Washington, Carmen McCrae, Maureen McGovern, June Christie, Jo Stafford, Diana Krall,
Males; Joe Williams, Billy Eckstine, A.J.Croce.
Patricia Barber, Diana Krall, Mel Torme, Bobby Short.
Try Sarah Vaughan, Dee Dee Bridgewater (Live at Yoshi's is great), and Mary Stallings (Live at the Village Vanguard).
The prior posts have covered a fair bit of territory. Ella Fitzgerald, in my opinion, is the quintessential female jazz vocalist. Sarah Vauhgan had a better instrument in some ways, but her delivery was a bit more quirky. The late Susannah McCorkle sang very well, although, for love or money, I can't understand why my wife always insists she was nasal. A singer whose instrument was not the mightiest but who made the most of it with a beautiful sense of delivery, great tone and a believable, I was there, I've done that, quality is Anita O'Day. Try "All the sad young men" on Verve.
shirly horn, great stylist and pianist. low key, romantic, intimate stuff for the most part, mostly recorded on verve. karrin allyson on concord jazz.
Most of the best known female jazz vocalists are listed above, but you might branch out a bit and try Sheila Jordan (one of the greatest of the bop vocalists), Irene Kral, Abby Lincoln, and one to really stretch your ears and mind: Betty Carter.
Among the male vocalists that belong on any list of "greats", I'd include Mark Murphy - for my money, the finest bop-style male jazz vocalist ever. Mark is not only a great singer, but one of the finest interpreters of the written verse -- and almost every album he has recorded features some outstanding jazz musicians. If I had to pick just one jazz singer -- male or female -- to take to a "desert island" with me, it would be Mark Murphy (although it would be a very close vote between him and Sarah Vaughn). There is a very good 2-CD compilation of Murphy's work from the early 1960's to mid-1990's that was released on the reissue label called 32Jazz -- the title, as I recall, is "Stolen and Other Moments".
i second the Betty Carter recommendation
Jeannie Bryson, (Dizzie Gillespie's illegitimate daughter) has a CD of Peggy Lee tandards called: Some Cats Know, it is worth a listen. Very nice, while not a classic IMO (it is slightly pop sounding) it is very well done with sincerity and conviction.
Thanks for your responses. I will definitely look into Mark Murphy, Carmen McRae, Betty Carter, Shirley Horn. I'm not a Sarah Vaughan fan, though.
Try Natalie Cole - Stardust. Great standard songs, well recorded.
I recommend you to hear Nora Jones. She's pop/jazz with stunning recording over her new album and outstanding vocal IMO. This will probably be a good intro for you to get into mainstream jazz. Diana Krall' Love Scenes and When I look into your eyes wouldn't hurt either.