Review of CD "One Dream" featuring vocalist Helen Welch with the Cleveland (USA) Jazz Orchestra
By Ted Higgins
Helen Welch was a featured vocalist member of the Opus One Big Band from 1998 to 2003 and was deputizing for Heather, Babette, and Lynn during various pregnancy,s over this period. Helen was also a fantastic cabaret performer and did her one women show for us on many occasions during that period. Helen also did a tour with Gary Williams and David Jacobs during this time. Helen married an American and settled down in Diamond, Ohio and rebuilt her career the other side of the great pond. Needless to say Ted Higgins Opus One Bandleader has kept in touch and late during 2006 received a CD "One Dream". Alan Boynton our drummer and Ted took the opportunity to listen to the C.D. on the way to a football match.
After having listened we spent half an hour lamenting the fact that we have lost a great talent to the U.S.A. We at Opus One do miss Helen so much both on a working level and as a friend. Both Alan and I agreed that the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra as with most American bands played with that infectious swing sadly lacking in some British Bands and the musicianship was excellent. The secret behind this was the drummer who played with drive and swung at whatever volumn, had good shape to his playing and held everything together. I particularly enjoyed some of the quite sustained playing from the band, Helens voice and every section was well balanced with itself and with each other, when playing as an ensemble.
The album opened with a ballad called "One Dream" co composed by Helen with the late Tim Freebairn and featured a lovely mix of standards.I really enjoyed the charts, particularly the "West Side Story" Medley consisting of "Somethings Comin' " and "Somewhere". These two songs are both notoriously difficult to sing but were interpreted with some style. I was pleased to see Helen has not ignored her roots with a lush arrangement of Vera Lynns "I'll Be Seeing You".
I have only one observations to make. I thought that "Straighten up and Fly Right" although performed perfectly well could have done with being a tad slower. All charts to me have that definitive speed at which they groove and feel right, but perhaps I have been listening too often to the Linda Ronstadt / Nelson Riddle version which is slower. Anyway in an album of 17 tracks for me to only be able to make one observation it's got to be excellent.
The album is a mixture of big band swing and easy listening ballads with some excellent arranging from the likes of Nelson Riddle plus two modern
arrangers Roland Paollucci and Paul Ferguson. All in all a very likeable album set firmly in the easy listening catagory. Any one interested in purchasing a copy of the album please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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