Jazz vocalist and composer Ward Swingle has died, aged 87.

He passed away in Eastbourne, England on 19 January (15).

The musician founded the group the Swingle Singers in the early 1960s when he was living on and off in Paris, France, and helped to make classical music more appealing for the masses by using scat syllables to vocalise compositions by Bach and adding string bass and drums to record Bach's Greatest Hits in 1963.

The album won the group its first of three Grammy Awards for Best Performance by a Chorus.

The Swingle Singers went on to work with the New York Philharmonic orchestra and jazz star Stephane Grappelli, before the original line-up disbanded in 1973.

Swingle later relaunched the band with a new line-up in England, where they were known as Swingle Ii and then the New Swingle Singers.

He retired from the group in the 1980s, but remained an adviser to the band, which currently consists of seven men and women.