Clare Teal and her Big Mini Big Band/Malvern Theatres


DUKE Ellington would indeed have found a kindred spirit in Clare Teal.

The great band leader correctly observed that it didn’t mean a thing without that swing… or at least words to that effect.

And as far as this performer is concerned, you might say that it simply couldn’t be real without that Teal feel. Or once again, words to that effect.

The award winning jazz vocalist and radio presenter most certainly has ‘feel’ in whopping great dollops. I’ve lost count of the number of jazz diva impressionists I’ve seen who talk the talk yet invariably fail to walk the walk.

This is not the case here for Teal is most definitely the real deal.

Being the seasoned artist that she is, her style is to gently ease her way into the set, choosing That Old Black Magic as an opener, then playing safe with the follow-up Let’s Fall in Love.

Slowly but surely, she then chances her arm with a fabulous rendition of Tainted Love, which quite obviously had always been ripe for a jazz interpretation, a fact that eluded many of us back in the days when Marc Almond was warbling this number.

Although Teal never strays far from the secure pages of the American Songbook, or Duke Ellington for that matter, she makes no apologies for launching into tunes such as the unashamedly boisterous I Will Survive or the completely obscure Elvis number that she failed to name.

Why was this? After all, the backing vocalists did the Jordanaires proud.

And as for her band, they were superb, everyone a master or mistress of their chosen instrument.

The only 12-bar blues of the night was a stomping Nothing’s Gonna Be All Right with its Bobby Troupe-style piano riff holding the whole thing together while Teal hollered and the horn section honked away with abandon.

The last real high spot of the night was the evergreen Cry Me a River, delivered with so much pain that the late great Julie London might have woken from her eternal slumber and nodded her approval.

Verdict? This was a great classic jazz gig and may this talented performer return to Malvern soon.

John Phillpott