High-flying Teal hits the right notes on super Christmas sleighride
Keith Bruce WITH Calvinistic disapproval of its superficial materialism, I had taken Kay Starr’s Christmas hit Everybody’s Waiting for The Man with the Bag to be a coded drug song.
Listening to Clare Teal perform it with the super-versatile BBC Scottish during this packed-out live concert recording for broadcast on Christmas Eve, it belatedly struck me that is probably nonsense.
Teal was on fine up-tempo form on this swinger, but even better on Sarah Vaughan’s Snowbound, which was served in a beautiful arrangement by Don Costa featuring a lovely moment of dialogue between the singer and orchestra leader Laura Samuel.
Details like that were recurring delights of this Stephen Bellconducted programme, from the familiar celesta and bass clarinet of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy, to precision percussion on Morton Gould’s remarkably delicate arrangement of Jingle Bells.
That revivified Yule chestnut also included one of many crucial contributions from the trombone section, in an evening when the brass often had the best of it, unsurprisingly including Leroy Anderson’s Bugler’s Holiday and redeeming Guy Barker’s arrangement of Mariah Carey’s All I Want for Christmas is You, on which Teal seemed rather less at ease.
Seasoned Radio 2 broadcaster though she is, this was our own Jamie MacDougall’s show, his presentation having just the right quotient of panto, and his own vocal contributions on Mel Torme’s Christmas Song and Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley’s Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka, also highlights of the night.
However, I might, in fact, have preferred to hear his reading of Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
The orchestral music, especially the sleighrides, was splendid too, even if Richard Bissill’s Overture: Christmas Carnival was a bit too much rich pudding before the interval.