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Bebop Spoken There

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Born This Day
Louis Armstrong and Steve Andrews.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Nothing Like A Dame

I have to admit it took me a long time to fall in love with Dame Cleo; about 50 years to be precise. Maybe longer. I enjoyed hearing her with the Johnny Dankworth Seven back in the days of Sunday night concerts at Newcastle Odeon as well as at later gigs with the Dankworth big band. It was when Johnny became John (John conveniently forgetting that, as Johnny, he once played with Freddy Mirfield's Garbage Men) that Cleo suddenly became an upmarket personality and her voice took on all those irritating mannerisms. Sarah Vaughan too had a lot of mannerisms but somehow her's only irritated occasionally.

There were moments when I forgave her; her "Shakespeare And All That Jazz" recorded in 1964 was, probably still is, the defining mix of jazz and the written/spoken word. Something few would dare to deny. However, one swallow doesn't make a supper and I heard little else to enjoy.

As recently as this merry month of May, with a hey and a ho and a hey nonny no I opted to drive to Darlington to catch Scott Hamilton and Steve Fishwick rather than go up the road to the Sage and listen to Lord and Lady Dankworth of Wavendon.

Then I heard "Quality Time".

A good friend and contributer to this site raved about Cleo singing "Quality Time". I shrugged it off; I knew "Quality Time" as a clever Dave Frishberg song that Susannah McCorkle had recorded but couldn't quite equate it with the sentiments Liz was attributing to it so, as I had picked up Cleo's CD of same somewhere along the way, I decided to listen to it - don't ask me why I hadn't done so before; built in conceptions guess.

Let me tell you this is one helluva CD. Gone are the mannerisms to be replaced by a feeling of sensuality akin to a Julie London or a Jeri Southern. "Quality Time", the song, is not the Frishberg fol de rol but a beatutiful piece written by tenor saxist Duncan Lamont and drummer, the late Allan Ganley. Apart from the originals (Cleo and Sir John also penned some) there are several well chosen standards and, in particular, a goose pimpling version of "Wee Small Hours" that gets within sight of the Sinatra version.

It was recorded in 2002 which would make her 75 at the time...

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

I feel good knowing that you feel good about "Quality time" It certainly left an impression on me Lance. I think I must buy it. I do agree about Cleo mellowing somewhat, it's easier on the ear. Why mess with lyrics when they are as beautifully written as this, thankfully she doesn't.

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