A few weeks ago received a request for more Cleo Laine. Dug through my vinyls and came up with this concert she gave in the Town Hall of Melbourne, Australia, on March 17th, 1972. Bought it originally not so much for Cleo (although I have been a fan of hers for years) but for the fact that she appeared this time in tandem with hubby John Dankworth. I knew that their duo appearances were usually very highly regarded by the critics. Her "on stage" work was also well received, so this album really had a lot to recommend it.
As just a jazz singer Cleo never made really top billing on the world stage as say Ella, Sarah or even June Christy, although she did sing with Ellington and Fitzgerald! However I've always considered her under-rated. Whereas the three jazz divas that I mentioned and others of course had huge talent, none could match Cleo in her ability to woo an audience with her fantastic artistry. By this I refer to her superb diction, faultless pitch, amazing vocal technique and characterization skills. Her talents are multidimensional. Worth noting also that she is the only female singer to have received Grammy nominations in the jazz, pop and classical categories.
You catch a glimpse of many of these talents as this concert unfolds. She scats cleverly with Dankworth on "I'm Gonna Sit Right Down" and that three-dimensional characterization of Noel Coward's "Mad About The Boy" is quite something as is "Paddy" towards the end of the show.
The Dankworth composing skills shine when Cleo sings his settings to poems by T. S. Elliot, Spike Milligan, Alun Owen and W. H. Auden. His quartet lets rip with "I Got Rhythm" and handles the ballad style nicely on Errol Garner's "Misty".
A New York critic wrote of Laine and Dankworth's September 2008 engagement at Blue Note: "DankworthвЂ™s alto sax and clarinet sound as gossamer as ever, while LaineвЂ™s voice remains a wonder of agility and plummy richness. After 57 years of dual music-making (and 50 of marriage), the Dankworths can anticipate one anotherвЂ™s every move; they make a stage seem as comfortable as their living room."
01) I Know Where I'm Going
02) Fascinatin' Rhythm
03) What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life
04) Lines To R. Hodgson Esq [T. S. Eliot/Dankworth]
05) Doctor David Mantle [Spike Milligan/Dankworth]
06) Thieving Boy [Alun Owen/Dankworth]
07) Tell Me The Truth About Love [W. H. Auden/Dankworth]
08) I'm Gonna Sit Right Down
01) Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind
02) O Mistress Mine
03) Take All My Loves
04) Shall I Compare Thee [Dankworth]
05) Dunsinane Blues [Dankworth]
06) Mad About The Boy [Noel Coward]
01) I Got Rhythm [Dankworth Quartet]
02) Misty [Dankworth Quartet]
03) Riding High
04) Bossa Palma Nova [Dankworth]
02) On A Clear Day
04) Please Don't Talk About Me
05) Song Without Words [Dankworth]