Dorothy Doring and Phil Mattson, Compositions by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.

by Jeff Becker

The veteran vocalist Dorothy Doring is a crossover artist who is equally at home with contemporary pop to classic standards having experience in everything from country to rock, to blues and jazz.  Her debut CD, About Time, earned a nomination for the Minnesota Music Awards “Jazz CD of the Year.” In 2005, she traveled south to New Orleans to record Southern Exposure with renowned producer and arranger David Torkanowsky and some of the finest Crescent City musicians.  A founding member of the Twin Cities Cabaret Artists Network, today she balances performance and teaching, currently as a full-time music educator for the St. Paul Public Schools and on stage at music venues throughout the Twin Cities.

Doring takes her time between albums, only release one every six or seven years and each effort is always developed and well thought out. For her new CD, Doring places herself in a duet setting with pianist Phil Mattson with a program simply called, Compositions by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn.
Their duo gives tribute to the great Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Their arrangements and musical interpretations are imaginative, innovative and highly musical.  The music should be well within the pallet of the serious listener of jazz and those found of cabaret.
 Phil Mattson is a two-time Grammy nominee that helped establish The School for Music Vocations at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa.   Mattson’s resume as an arranger includes commissions for: Manhattan Transfer, Chanticleer, The Dale Warland Singers, The Four Freshmen, and more. As an accompanist, Phil’s resume includes: Mark Murphy, Bobby McFerrin, Sunny Wilkinson, Barbara Morrison, Richie Cole, Ernestine Anderson, Carmen Lundy, and more. He has led the vocal jazz groups pm singers, VoicesIowa, and Vocalogy, and served as Vocal Jazz Director for The Stan Kenton Clinics; he annually conducts the Carnegie Hall Vocal Jazz Festival and leads the Phil Mattson Vocal Jazz/Choral Workshops on campuses throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe and directs the Phil Mattson Singers.
The disc is full of highlights, “Day Dream” is a wonderful lesser known selection, but is a wonderful opener and establishes Doring’s command and rich vocal style from the start.  Mattson is a very sensitive accompanist and keeps the music moving and breathing, while supporting Doring.  “Love You Madly” is a stride cabaret styled arrangement that is fun and finds both performers in top form.  Doring finds a way to breathe new life in the vocal anthem, “Lush Life.” Her delivery is passionate and controlled, while embellishing the melody in just the right way and in all the right places.  “I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart” is given a nice slow tempo that lets the two squeeze the emotions out of the storyline and is right on the mark.
This is a light enjoyable duet date led by vocalist Dorothy Doring that celebrates the music of the Duke and Strayhorn. Arranger/pianist Mattson creates wonderful textures on the piano with an emphasis on the emotional and sulkier side of Ellington’s music, which works beautifully. The colors and textures the duet yield an intimate hue to the music, putting additional pressure on the individual players, but Doring and Mattson are more than up to the challenge. This is a fine duet session and beautiful all around.