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The Jazz Breakfast
"A life-affirming evening of sophisticated modern art."
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Jazz Times
You'll be hard pressed to do better than her latest release
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Jazz Magazine
'La Londonienne Claire Martin fait l'unanimité des amateurs de jazz vocal de les plus tâtillons...'
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Music-Web International
"...an interesting digression in her musical journey."
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The Jazz Rag
Claire "at her most expressive"
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allaboutjazz.com
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Audiophile Audition
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"...very highly recommended!"
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In Tune International
"...assured, imaginative and irresistible..."
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allgigs.co.uk
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thejazzmann.com
4 Stars
"'A Modern Art' might just be her best album yet."
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Jazz Journal
"lovers of superior jazz singing should acquire without delay."
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SoundStage.com
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"In every song you can hear the singer's joy of creation and delight in performance."
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Mojo
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The Observer
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Record Collector (Easy Listening)
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"An album that keep you on your toes."
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Record Collector
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"[Claire Martin's] in scintillating form..."
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BBC Music Magazine
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"Martin's delivery is artful across the genres."
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"...utterly assured."
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UKVibe.org
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"'A Modern Art' seems set to be her most [album] successful to date."
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Scotland on Sunday
"Her eight-piece band is funky and certainly swings."
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Sunday Times
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The Guardian
a consummate jazz singer with old-school virtues
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Time Out
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... her finest album to date
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The Scotsman
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BBC online
Claire's voice starts silky and breathy and expands to gospel proportions
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Northern Echo (Jazz Notes)
"...must go straight into the best of 2009 list. It is a stunning tribute to an outstanding jazz singer..."
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London Evening Standard
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Claire Martin always delivers the goods
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Venue Magazine
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Greater Manchester City Life
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"the singer herself is the incarnation of sass and vivacity"
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Metro
"beautifully delivered with trademark cool-school virtuosity by Martin."
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Jazzwise
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"Claire Martin is really very good"
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EDP24
There are singers - and then there are singers
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Claire Martin - A Modern Art - Audio Video Club of Atlanta


06 November 2009
Audio Video Club of Atlanta
Phil Muse

British jazz vocalist Claire Martin comes out with her first new CD in two years, and this time it's personal. Not that she didn't get to the heart of things, in the inimitable way a first rate jazz artist can do, in her last Linn release, He Never Mentioned Love. That album was a tribute to Shirley Horne and was filled with songs associated with that great singer and sung in a style that was reminiscent of her. And while Claire continues to revere Shirley among her role models ­ along with "Ella, Sarah, Betty, and Carmen" (jazz aficionados, you know who we're talking about ­ she takes what she needs from each and melds it into her own unique style.) That too, is what a true artist does.

But there's something personal in another way about her latest, A Modern Art, and it goes beyond the two lyrics she co authored with Laurence Cottle, whose wisely knowing string bass is heard on this album, "Edge Ways" and the title song, "A Modern Art." With that song, we get down to a deeper level of involvement. Says Claire, "It's my own take on celebrity culture and the mass dumbing down of musical standards in popular music." (In that respect, I understand the Rap and Hip Hop viruses have spread to the other side of the pond. You Britons have my deepest sympathies.) She admits she's "on a mission" for jazz, which she feels is "as vibrant and relevant as ever and can indeed gain a mass appeal ­ I'm sure of it!"

She makes her best case with her songs, backed by a solidly sympathetic trio of Cottle, Gareth Williams on piano, and two different drummers who aren't identified by tracks: James Maddren, and Chris Dagley. Add percussionist Sola Akingbola and Mark Nightingale on trombone and the inimitable Nigel Hitchcock on alto sax, and you have great backup for a gal who's out to define herself as a jazz singer in the 21st century.

The goal is clear: how "to reach a higher ground / find an inspired sound / when in the song we're down / with this modern art" (title song). Intense preoccupation with self is not an answer: "So good for you and me / Too bad for some: / Freedom's not for everyone. / That's just so twentieth century" (So 20th Century). A deeper level of communication is needed: "While I'm drowning in the chatter, / I don't hear a thing you say; / If my opinion doesn't matter, / you'd ignore me anyway."

The better way, as jazz has always known, is direct, personal and loving: "How everything we say / and everything we do / has been preordained, / brings you, love, to be here // Nothing else is pure, / nothing else is right; / You will know for sure, / once you've seen the light" (Love is Real). It provides certainty in a chaotic world: "So many things, we know, are never what they seem, / and life is never guaranteed; / So on the chance that you can overcome / what sinks us to out knees (As We Live and Breathe)." And love, when found, can be a form of breathless astonishment: "I can't deny the stranger in my skin, / or is it just Nirvana setting in?" (Nirvana)


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