Claire Martin - Too Much in Love to Care - Audiophile Audition
08 June 2012Audiophile Audition
With musical inspirations like Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald and
Betty Carter, it is no surprise Claire Martin would succeed as a jazz
singer. At twenty-one she fronted a quartet and was signed to Scottish
label, Linn. Her debut, The Waiting Game was The Times
album of the year and immediately put her among the elite of English
jazz singers. Soon after the release of the album, she opened for Tony
Bennett (who has become a huge fan) at the Glasgow International Jazz
festival. Her pristine vocals and intuitive feel for melodic
interpretation shaped her musical vision.
Subsequent albums brought the attention of the American music
culture, when she recorded a live album at Ronnie Scott's legendary
nightclub. Overall Martin has made thirteen records with Linn Records,
collaborating with Martin Taylor, John Martin, Stephane Grappelli, Mark
Nightingale, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Jim Mullen and Nigel
Hitchcock. Many of these projects have contained popular modern music
and songs of The American Songbook. Ms. Martin has been appointed Officer Of The Order Of The British Empire (O.B.E), in addition she is a co-presenter for Jazz Line Up on BBC Radio 3.
Claire Martin's latest album is a collection of vintage American
standards. She has decided to record with piano legend, Kenny Barron.
Barron has an extensive career with harmonious jazz arrangement. Backed
by Peter Washington (bass), Kenny Washington (drums) and Steve Wilson
(saxophone, flute), the band is fully capable of propelling Martin's
talent into American Songbook respectability. Opening the set is a
surprising version of the eclectic "Too Much In Love To Care"
(apparently unrecorded since Carmen McRae in 1954). Martin's breezy,
sophisticated phrasing is impeccable. The latin-fused quintet (with a
jaunty flute by Steve Wilson) swings effortlessly. The singer has always
enjoyed a special chemistry with pianists. On the Gershwin classic,
"Embraceable You", she gets to perform a duo with one of the best
interpreters of romantic music, Kenny Barron. His playing is concise
(almost Basie-like) and lyrical. With a slight up tempo, Martin singing
is artistic, reminiscent of her hero, Ella Fitzgerald. Even on a song
covered by nearly everyone ("Time After Time"), her take is fresh and
vibrant. Barron executes a finger-snapping elegance that shines.
Demonstrating a bluesy nuance, "How Long Has This Been Going On" is
wistful. Bassist Peter Washington joins with an intricate solo on double
Martin possesses all of the requisite elements of jazz singing,
including flawless elocution, excellent timing and an ability to
intermingle her vocal tones with the ensemble. The band is superb,
especially on the saucy cover of "Lazy Afternoon". Kenny Washington's
drumming is masterful and anchors the stylish, jazzy vibe. The
arrangements are never dull. "I Only Have Eyes For You" adopts a gentle
swing groove and reinvents itself. There is also a warm familiarity with
the material as evidenced by the slow-burning, "I'm Glad There Is You".
Martin injects emotional poignancy, but not excessively. The finale
("Too Late Now") reunites her with Barron in a heartfelt ballad.
Too Much In Love To Care is a superlative album. From the
stylistic, "cool" jazz of the quartet to the assured, versatile singing,
all of the pieces fit intuitively. The SACD Stereo sound is powerful
and engineered with crisp tonality and warmth. The detailed mixing of
Martin's velvet voice and outstanding diction is amazingly clear and
distinctive. The separation is first class and uncluttered.
Related LinksClaire MartinKenny BarronToo Much in Love to Care