The Doris Day Project
July 31, 2016
Reviewed by Les Traub for Cabaret Scenes
Scott Dreier’s second CD, The Doris Day Project, springs from his joyous and moving theater piece, Doris and Me, in the sense that it continues his display of deep love and respect for Doris Day, but places the songs in an expanded musical context. The 16numbers are studio-recorded and stand alone without the historical narration and personal stories from the stage show. What comes across instead is Dreier’s own exuberant take on the Day repertoire, complete with original, bright arrangements that bring a contemporary flavor to the material. The instrumentation ranges from a swinging 17-piece big band to a piano/vocal track to an assortment of groupings in between. Without exception, Dreier is in top form whatever the setting. There are elements of Day’s style in some of the tracks, but Dreier’s commanding vocals and sensitive exploration of the lyrics make this very much his project, as well.
The selection of songs showcases Doris Day’s parade of hits and reflects the great contribution she has made to the Great American Songbook. The CD opens with “Shaking the Blues Away” with a brassy big band arrangement by Duane Benjamin. The arrangement harks back to something that might have been heard in the ’40s or ’50s, but it has no musty overtones, even with the nostalgic backup vocal harmonies. Dreier handles the driving arrangement with ease. His gentle touch is on display in “Do, Do, Do” paired with the ukulele of Joe DeBlasi, who also arranged it. A slow and intimate version of “Secret Love,” beautifully sung by Dreier, is artfully framed by Andy Langham on piano and DeBlasi on guitar. “Someone Like You” has a playful arrangement by Brad Ellis that seamlessly slips from a 20s or ’30s sound to a swinging band sound. Again, and throughout the CD, Dreier fits right in the groove, no matter what the setting. Jonny May did some of the other fine arrangements.
Jane Monheit joins Dreier for a fun duet on “Everybody Loves a Lover,” complete with Jimmy Z’s wailing harmonica. The complete proceeds of this song will be donated to the Doris Day Animal Foundation, prompting a nice note from Doris herself in the CD booklet.
A purely nostalgic track closes the CD. Les Brown’s original arrangement of “Sentimental Journey” is recreated with Dreier handling the vocal chores as the boy singer. It’s a nice way to close the CD: by acknowledging the hit that began her remarkable career.
Scott Dreier writes in his liner notes that Doris Day has this incredible ability of making everything she sings sound so effortless and easy. Dreier, himself, comes across the same way.