Definition and background:
The practice of adding words to instrumental jazz melodies, improvised melodies, or improvised jazz solos. Similar to the term vocalise, vocalese is a pun that combines " vocal " and the suffix "ese" meaning a vocal in a unique language. Singers began the vocalese style as early as the 1940's as they tried to use their voice to mimic the improvised solos of instruments. It was the vocal trio, "Lambert, Hendricks and Ross" (Dave Lambert, Jon Hendricks and Annie Ross), that brought vocalise into the mainstream with their innovative sound in the late 1950's. Other vocal groups such as Manhattan Transfer continue to keep this style of singing popular. Vocalese is similar to scat singing, which is an improvised form of vocalese. See also Vocalization; Vocalise; Scat Singing.
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Wikipedia - Glossary of Musical Terminology
Virginia Tech Multimedia Music Dictionary
ORB -- Medieval Music Glossary