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Top 5 Jazz Vocal Performances Of 2011

Norah Jones kicks off KPLU's list of great vocal performances in 2011.
Courtesy of the artist
Norah Jones kicks off KPLU's list of great vocal performances in 2011.

How many ways can you sing a song? Why do some pieces work only with certain vocalists? Why is it so rare to have the right fit between a singer and a song? Is it simply a matter of arrangement, or does the style and sensibility of a particular vocalist lend itself to making a piece "work"?

These five tunes — all from excellent 2011 releases — exemplify how great singers and great songs fit together. In each case, the vocal sound, style and personality of the singer slips into the theme and structure of each tune like a proverbial glove.

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Nick Francis
A native of Los Angeles and graduate of UCLA, Francis began his radio career in 1983 at KLSK-FM, an eclectic-based jazz station in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Since then, he has programmed jazz radio at stations all around the country, including KKSF/San Francisco and WJZZ/Atlanta. During his seven years as Program Director at KYOT/Phoenix, he helped it become the first jazz station in America to achieve number-one status in the ratings. He joined the KPLU team in November 2005.His most memorable KPLU radio moment was meeting and interviewing Mose Allison. He lives in North Tacoma, and is married to photographer Sharon Styer.