LA Jazz Festival

Reviewed at The L.A. Jazz Festival, Los Angeles by Gordon Sapsed.

For the final two sets of the evening a Nelson Riddle Orchestra was assembled and led by Christopher Riddle. Again featuring 'cream of the crop' LA studio musicians, the band also included a full string section and French horns. Vocals for these sets were handled by Sue Raney and English big band vocalist Gary Williams. There was also a guest appearance by a member of the Canadian Jazzkidz band David Morino.

Gary, who sings in a relaxed Sinatra style without being a Sinatra imitator, has recently recorded an album of Nelson Riddle arrangements, but had never before appeared live with the band. The LAJI audience responded well to his natural style and liked his mostly self-depreciating line of humour. Gary opened both sets with a half dozen songs in each set. His familiarity with the arrangements allowed him to relate well to the musicians. The audience gave him a standing ovation and called for his return to join Sue Raney and the band for a final bow.

Sue Raney was able to call on Nelson Riddle arrangements from her Capitol debut album recorded in 1959, including 'My Ideal’ and a wonderful arrangement of 'I Stayed Too Long at the Fair' as well as other Riddle-arranged charts from her later career.

Always a bit hit with LA audiences - and no doubt partially responsible for the nearly full house for this set, Sue was also very well received.