Singers: Clare Teal, Matthew Ford
Conductor: Colin Billing
Reviewer: Ron Simpson
Though Clare Teal undoubtedly has a considerable following of her own, the packed auditorium at CAST seemed to suggest that the appeal of Doris Day, now in her nineties, is undiminished. So it proved when the last few numbers – saving till last some of her most popular songs – produced a hearty sing-along: of course, everyone knew the words, even if the songs were 50 years old!
Clare Teal managed the programme very skilfully. Her constant theme was the versatility and range of Doris Day and the concert moved through classic film songs and jazzier album tracks before hitting send-‘em-home-happy mood with ‘The Deadwood Stage’ – Clare on a pantomime horse, still singing well despite the tongue in her cheek – and a sequence of hits, some admittedly rather more cheesy than the rest of the programme.
Under the flamboyantly efficient baton of Colin Billing, a fine 16-piece orchestra reminded us of a few Doris Day favourites in a pot pourri overture before Clare began with ‘It’s Magic’ and a brightly appealing ‘Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps’. Clare, wisely, made no attempt at direct imitation, but her voice proved a very fair match for Doris Day’s, if with a touch more overt emotionalism. Both could claim near-perfect diction.
If Clare has a jazz background, so to an extent did Doris and a number she recorded with the Andre Previn Trio, ‘Close Your Eyes’, proved a concert highlight, with immaculate accompaniment from pianist Jason Rebello and bassist Simon Little. This, followed by a well-judged version of the wonderful Rodgers and Hart song, ‘Little Girl Blue’ – an unexpected part of Doris Day’s repertoire – paved the way for the first appearance of the evening’s guest singer, Matthew Ford.
He proved the perfect choice, a very capable singer in post-Sinatra vein, but also an engaging personality who fitted well with Clare’s style, relaxed, apparently laid-back, but in reality very sharp-witted. Their duets on ‘No Two People’ and ‘Hernando’s Hideaway’ combined comic teamwork with spot-on vocal timing.The seven-piece string section varied its tone colour with great skill, BBC Big Band veterans Mike Lovatt and Gordon Campbell were a potent brass team, with quality solos and occasional merriment, and the three reeds were versatility personified as well as getting a nice sax section sound on numbers such as ‘Everybody Loves My Baby’.
Clare Teal’s vocal tribute to Doris Day is not – as Clare reminded us – in any way a version of the Doris Day Story, but clearly she is a genuine fan and provided plenty of insights into that story in a deliberately haphazard way. More polished than Clare pretended, the evening gave us good songs very well sung, happy memories and a top-class orchestra playing really smart arrangements.
Reviewed on: 14th May 2015