Vocalese pioneer Annie Ross has died in New York at the age of 89. The singer and actress had been suffering from emphysema and heart disease. A later influence on Manhattan Transfer, Kurt Elling and Al Jarreau, Ross in the 1950s following a request from Prestige Records wrote lyrics in a “vocalese” style that matched the improvised lines of an instrumental jazz solo and this departure made her name as a jazz singer and performer. She collaborated with singers Dave Lambert and Jon Hendricks, who were working on an album of music associated with big-band leader Count Basie. Her groundbreaking work was recognised when she was awarded the highest award in American jazz in 2010 in becoming an NEA Jazz Master.