A Swinging Affair

Claire Martin and Ray Gelato

Belgrade Theatre, Coventry and on tour


THIS certainly was a Swinging Affair. Musically it encompassed the great age of swing from Louis Prima to the Andrews Sisters, with some great songs and great partnerships honoured.

To start, a really good idea, This could be the start of Something Big, then Gershwin’s They all laughed with some lyrics that were new to me about Iphones! Perfectly accompanied by the Dave Newton Trio, with famed jazz pianist Newton, on keyboards, the first set continued with the one I found myself singing as I left, Something’s Gotta Give’ with Ray Gelato on Sax.

Claire Martin’s tone and range has deepened over the years and I loved her rendition of the Peggy Lee’s classic ballad, Love you the best though, again, I don’t remember the line about kissing George Clooney’s nose… Her other ballad in the second set was also exemplary; the gorgeous and lilting Pat Dennis’ Everything happens to me.

Ray Gelato’s voice suited the scat style of I’m in the mood for love and Claire Martin is no slouch at the scatting either.  Their duet of All I do is Dream of you was elegant and memorable.

They finished off the first set with A lot of Coffee in Brazil putting us neatly into the mood for half-time.

They finished the second set with Two of a Kind which was a great idea and elegantly ‘swung’.

What did I enjoy the most? Claire Martin’s version of the Billie Holliday classic Now Baby or Never followed closely by the one they clearly enjoyed the most, Orange-colored sky, which I’ve never heard performed before though I play it often. It’s infectious rhythms were made for them.

What makes a good performance? I think making it look easy and being comfortable on stage are vital. Claire Martin’s mic stopped working on a couple of occasions and, seasoned professional as she is, she said it might have to be a dance show from now on – but things got better in the end!

What might have spoiled it, and probably did from some members of the audience, was Ray Gelato pointing out, really quite rudely, on three separate occasions that the audience was small – Claire Martin ticked him off elegantly enough but it’s no way to treat an audience. If it were me, their style would have suited better the intimacy of the new, smaller auditorium, B2, and leave the cavernous main house, which is hard to play, to theatre.

Jane Howard



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