Related Reviews
The Arts Desk
4 Stars
'Onomatopoeic delights and acerbic wit from top-drawer duo.'
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The International Review of Music
'A versatile performer with the capacity to find the inner life of whatever she sings.'
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Sound Stage Experience
4½ Stars
'...this disc proves she has arrived as an impeccable master artist and one of the greatest living voices in jazz.'
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Next Magazine
'...Martin is a wonderful interpreter who's perfectly paired with Bennett...'
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Home Theater Sound
5 Stars
"...their partnership has created a rare and special collaboration where the superlative product is truly more than the sum of its parts."
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Cabaret Scenes
'Both performers have flair for phrasing. Arrangements are refined and interesting.'
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Jazz Times
'When Britain's foremost jazz singer meets the island's most imaginative composer, the outcome is always stellar.'
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The New York Observer
'...sung to perfection by England's best young jazz singer, Claire Martin.'
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The Wall Street Journal
'The result is a kind of perfection...'
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New York Times
'...Martin, whose renditions...revealed the heart of a saloon torch beating inside the chipper jazz playmate.'
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In Tune International
'...perfect combination of singer and pianist...'
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MusicWeb International
"The collaboration between Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett works superbly."
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Record Collector
4 Stars
"The blend is attractive and oddly harmonious."
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The Walman Report / Culinary Gourmet
'Martin is a seasoned vocalist/performer and the end result is uniquely original.'
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Jersey Jazz
" album that is a sheer delight from start to finish."
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The Irish Times
"...plenty of wit and wordplay for the duo to savour, Martin is impeccable..."
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BBC Music Magazine
'...near-perfect match of singer and accompanist...'
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The Yorkshire Post
"Here's a lovely record...Martin is excellent throughout"
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Theater Mania
"...her smokey voice caresses the composer's melodies."
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The Observer
"...touching, clever, beautifully poised and deceptively casual-sounding."
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The Times
4 Stars
'Martin's jazz virtuosity adds another dimension. When her honeyed timbre slips into the lower register she captures the romance of a Ben Webster tenor solo.'
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'Claire Martin, both in the duo setting and in front of the chamber group made each song, each moment come to life.'
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O's Place Jazz Magazine
'It is a pleasure to listen to!'
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North London News
'...a tempting mélange of the familiar and the under-visited...'
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The Scotsman
"Martin's beautifully delivered interpretations are spot-on whatever the mood of the song..."
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Scotland on Sunday
4 Stars
"...a joy to hear."
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London Jazz
'...her intimate, deceptively unfussy vocal style perfectly complemented by his flawlessly eloquent piano.'
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Jazz Journal
'...the result is one timeless version of a song after another...Unequivocally recommended.'
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Claire Martin - Witchcraft - Jazzwise

01 March 2011
Robert Shore
4 Stars

Since starting to work together about a decade ago, Claire Martin and (now Sir) Richard Rodney Bennett have become an extremely popular pairing on the concert circuit.  Their only previous recorded outing together, 2005's When Lights Are Low, featured tunes from a cross section of Great American Songbook masters (Gershwin, Berlin etc) and more.  This new collection homes in a single composer, Cy Coleman (with words provided by a variety of lyricists, including the great Carolyn Leigh, and the barely lesser talent of Dorothy Fields), whose work has been a significant part of the duo's repertoire for a few years now.  It's hard to imagine a better, more naturally swinging interpreter of this sophisticated material than Martin, and RRB provides perfect understated accompaniment, as well as vocals on a handful of tracks.  There's nothing flash about the arrangements or performances, just a transcendent submission to and faith in the songs as written. And what songs they are: from best-known numbers ('The Best Is Yet To Come') to some lesser-known pieces (the irresistibly witty 'Everybody Today Is Turning On') and the killing closer, 'Would You Believe', every one is a small gem.


Jazzwise talks to Claire Martin about the album

You've already road-tested this material

Yes, you could say we've been a little back-to-front with it.  But it's really the musician's ideal to play the material in before you record it, so actually it's the right way around.  It's great going into the studio already knowing what works with the tunes.

What drew you to the music of Cy Coleman?

The first album we did together [When Lights Are Low] was a bit of a mishmash, so this time we wanted to do a songbook - it's great for all sorts of reasons, and clubs love it if you've got a theme.  We were already doing 'Witchcraft' and 'The Best Is Yet To Come' in our set and we felt that [Coleman's music] hadn't been done to death.  Maybe people will know three or four songs, but there'll be something fresh.

How do you decide who's going to sing what?

We wanted to do 'fair shares'. I go bowling in with the ones I want to do.  Richard finds the ones that suit him, and where age brings more credibility to the lyric.

You have said before that Richard is the boss.  How does that manifest itself?

He's a leader, let's put it that way!  He won't play anything that he doesn't want to.  I've come up with some good suggestions over the years that have just been panned.  He'll just say 'I'm too old' and that's that!  Me and Norma Winstone do really good impressions of him.

What makes for a great musical relationship?

Richard is a real laugh.  He's extremely well read, and he's got a good story to tell about every singer.  We're good friends so there's no pressure on stage.  He can rib me and I like that.  He might drift off into another key and I'll just cross my eyes.  It's fun.

Are you planning any more live performances together?

We're doing about 40 dates this year.  Our really big gig is with the Nash Ensemble at the Wigmore Hall on 23 March.  It's being put together as a sort of present for Richard's 75th birthday.  I'm doing the cabaret set with him.

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