|Matt Ford. Photo credit: John Watson / Jazzcamera.co.uk|
On 16th May at Cadogan Hall, ‘Close To You: Sinatra and the Hollywood Quartet’ will present a reinvention of “Close to You”, one of the great Sinatra recordings. In this feature about the project, Héloïse Werner interviewed singer Matt Ford:
LondonJazz News: What is your role in the project?
Matt Ford I’m the crooning canary. It’s my job to learn the songs, and sing them nicely in tune in the style in which they were meant to be sung.
LJN: Is performing with the Close To You Ensemble any different from performing with a larger Big Band or orchestra?
MF: Every ensemble is different to the next. As a singer you’re exposed whatever the size of the band or orchestra. What IS different with this ensemble is the proximity to the band, in particular the strings. We set up so they horseshoe around me. In this manner I feel really connected to them and the pulse of the music.
LJN: What sort of audience do you think the project is aimed at?
MF: When we started rehearsing this material I was convinced it would only appeal to hard-core Sinatra fans. I am not ashamed to say I was completely wrong! We’ve had a comprehensive range of age groups in our audiences, performed in jazz clubs and at classical festivals, and in every instance we’ve had such an incredible reaction. I think it appeals to the classical audiences because of the strength of our string quartet and harp players, and the influence of Ravel on Riddle’s arrangements. It appeals to jazz audiences because of our swinging rhythm section and fabulous sax and trombone players. The songs themselves are such beautifully crafted stories, that they appeal to everyone.
LJN: What are your three favourite numbers of the set?
– I love P.S. I Love You as it’s one of the saddest lyrics I’ve ever sung. It might sound a bit weird, but it gives me the chance to act a role in order to deliver the story. Selfishly, I like that!
– Don’t like Goodbyes has real heartfelt emotion in its lyrics. It was really hard to learn, and it’s quite difficult to sing.
– A great challenge. September In The Rain (not from the Close To You album, but included in the set) is one of those fabulous Sinatra hits that you just don’t hear anymore. It sits in a swinging groove when the ensemble play it, and it’s become a favourite of mine.
LJN: If you were to describe the project in five words, what would they be?
MF: Classy, quality, emotional, beautiful, musical
LJN: What else is new in your life?
MF: We’re hoping to make an album of the Close To You project sometime soon.
I’ve been working with Clare Teal on her Celebration of Doris Day show. Clare is so easy to work with, top class, and a REAL talent.
In addition to this, West End Star and fellow John Wilson Orchestra singer Anna Jane Casey and I are working on a Hollywood duets show that we hope to tour in the near future. There are so many great duets spanning so many years, pinning down a final list is really difficult!