20 of the greatest living jazz singers.
1 Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell remains a presence in people’s lives, has done for decades and will continue through her own back catalogue and the tribute albums that many fine singers and instrumentalists have delivered over the years that find new meaning and inspiration among the life affirming and exploratory ecosystem of the songs.
2 Diana Krall
A singer who has outgrown genre although she was raised by jazz. I guess most people who go to her concerts these days are not all jazz fans or even much at all. That, purists please, does not matter one bit. Think about it before you knee jerk. Initially Krall emerged as a pianist and singer and was mentored by Ray Brown one of the greatest bassists in jazz history. These days she is a producer as well as a singer and new vocal stars like the Australian Sarah McKenzie owe her a lot and take the classic jazz tradition from Ella and Anita and Rosemary to Sarah to Billie and on to a new generation who are joyfully discovering the music for the first time.
3 Cassandra Wilson
While she may not have made much impact on jazz since the marvellous Loverly although her Billie Holiday homage was very fine indeed Cassandra Wilson if she never made another record still would stay high up on anyone's list. She unites jazz and the blues and again like Joni and Diana has broad appeal because she understands the songs she sings and does not just sing them however beautifully. Blue Light Til Dawn is her go-to album. Go to and stay for ages.
4 Cécile McLorin Salvant
She takes jazz way back to the first three or four decades of its life. While her career is only in its first tremendous phase so far she has made a huge impact on jazz, not just winning prizes, but winning the hearts of audiences via her consummate skill with words, marvellous range and that wit and sass.
5 Carmen Lundy
The best jazz club singer in the world today. Intimacy is paramount. Modern Ancestors is one of this year's best albums and lights up her career achievements once more.
6 Patricia Barber
A poet, a risk taker, temperamental. Mythologies is one of the greatest jazz concept albums, either vocal or instrumental, of the last 30 years and tracks from her latest Higher are magnificent.
7 Kurt Elling
What can you say, his voice is a wonder and he has a philosophical presence somehow. As wise as a Johnny Hartman, as free spirited in song as a Mark Murphy.
8 Gregory Porter
The story began as so much in life, indulge me in being over literal, with Water.
9 Cleo Laine
A Grammy Award remarkably in jazz, popular, and classical categories. The 1980s was her heyday when she won a Grammy for best female jazz vocal performance for the album Cleo at Carnegie: The 10th Anniversary Concert. She transcends all genre limitations in her work and until Jamie Cullum came along no other clearly defined British jazz singer has achieved so much acclaim internationally.
10 Andy Bey
Ultimate connoisseur's choice to speak Joni capable of ''touching souls.''
11 Van Morrison
A great jazz singer as well as everything else.
12 Tony Bennett
Walks on water for many. For new fans begin with his duets with Amy Winehouse and go back to the work with Bill Evans and Dave Brubeck.
13 Theo Bleckmann
Superb interpreter of Kate Bush… and so much more. Seek out his work with Michael Wollny.
14 Norma Winstone
No one does poignant or bittersweet better.
15 Dianne Reeves
Today's Ella Fitzgerald. Born to sing.
16 José James
Begin with The Dreamer.
17 Stacey Kent
Ultimate girl nextdoor singer.
18 Norah Jones
As much a country singer as a jazz singer. Her voice is everywhere, a joy, and instantly recognisable.
19 Youn Sun Nah
Marvellous whether singing a Randy Newman or Tom Waits song. A vocal acrobat and tender interpreter.
20 Ian Shaw
Gifted imaginer of Fran Landesman and Joni Mitchell. Superbly spirited.