Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Claire has Ella sewn up in style

By John Watson
Tribute To Ella Fitzgerald,

Symphony Hall

The magic of legendary jazz diva Ella Fitzgerald was recreated by one
of Britain's most accomplished singers, Claire Martin, with
spectacular orchestral accompaniment from the City of Birmigham
Symphony Orchestra (CBSO) under conductor John Wilson.

Claire was in magnificent voice for such Ella classics as Manhattan,
The Lady Is A Tramp and Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye.

Highlights included a strongly swinging Cheek To Cheek, a sublime
ballad version of But Not For Me, and an emotionally charged How
About Me?

At times Claire seemed to lack confidence with the lyrics, glancing
anxiously at her music stand, but this was a huge amount of
repertoire to learn for a one-off performance.

Orchestral soloists deserve special credit, particularly alto
saxophonist Howard McGill for soulful work on This Time The Dream's
On Me, and trombonist Andrew Wood on Too Late Now. Guitarist Martin
Kershaw, a studio session veteran who once worked with Ella, swung
with ease.

Conductor Wilson writes superb transcriptions of Nelson Riddle's
arrangements. Few conductors can get such large orchestral forces to
swing, but Wilson succeeds admirably.


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