Will 'The First Lady of British Jazz' win the accolade of 'Jazz Vocalist of the Year'?
Claire Martin's upcoming album!
Singer Claire Martin is to release her latest album Too Much in Love to Care on 30 April, her label Linn records has just confirmed. Martin appears on the release with the great US pianist Kenny Barron and an all-American band of bassist Peter Washington, drummer Kenny Washington and saxophonist/flautist Steve Wilson. Martin appeared with the Washingtons on her 1997 album Make This City Ours.
Too Much in Love to Care follows on from the Brighton-based classic jazz singer's duo album Witchcraft with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, which concentrated extensively on the Cy Coleman songbook. Too Much in Love to Care places itself completely in Great American Songbook territory a terrain Martin has become firmly identified with after brief forays into more singer/songwriter-derived material on earlier albums such as Perfect Alibi when she covered the likes of Phoebe Snow and Julia Fordham.
Martin, who also co-presents BBC radio 3's Jazz Line-Up weekly Sunday night magazine show, was awarded an OBE last year for services to music. She has an extensive discography dating back to the beginning of the 1990s and her debut album The Waiting Game. Influenced by the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Betty Carter early on and later Shirley Horn, Martin has a fan base both here in the UK and in the US following successful stints at venues including Jazz at Lincoln Center and the famed Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel where Jamie Cullum made his US debut and which currently faces closure. Cullum himself says of Martin: "Claire is unbeatable and sets the standard for all us singers."
Martin's new album was recorded at Avatar in New York. The 13 tracks are: ‘Too Much In Love To Care', ‘Embraceable You', ‘Weaver of Dreams', ‘Crazy He Calls Me', 'You Turned The Tables On Me', 'How Long Has This Been Going On?', ‘Lazy Afternoon', ‘Time After Time', ‘A Time For Love', ‘I Only Have Eyes For You', ‘I'm Glad There Is You', ‘Wonder Why', and ‘Too Late Now'.
Martin works with Kenny Barron for the first time on this album. Now 68, the multi-Grammy nominated Barron originally from Philadelphia began his career with Mel Melvin's orchestra in the 1950s before becoming heavily associated with James Moody in the 60s following Barron's earlier move to New York. He toured with Lalo Schifrin's quintet for four years in the 1960s, and saw out the decade with Freddie Hubbard before working with Yusuf Lateef and Ron Carter in the 70s. The 1980s saw Barron co-lead the band Sphere with Monk's former close playing associate saxophonist Charlie Rouse, and Barron has more than 30 albums to his own name as a leader. Night and the City with Charlie Haden, for instance, released in the 1990s, made an impact internationally as did later album The Traveler and Barron's many compositions, including notably ‘Phantoms' (from The Traveler), which Eddie Henderson performed to effect at Pizza Express Jazz Club last autumn, have become latter-day standards.
Ahead of the album's release Martin appears in a fundraiser on 30 March for Brighton & Hove Women Against the Cuts at Sallis Benney Theatre in Brighton accompanied by guitarist Jim Mullen. The Guardian's Polly Toynbee is to introduce the event. Other upcoming gigs include Buxton Opera House, Buxton (25 February) in duo with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett; guesting with the Steve Grossman / Damon Brown Quintet at Pizza Express Jazz Club, London (27-28 February); Maltings, Farnham (15 March) again with Richard Rodney Bennett; and in duo with Bennett at Town Hall, Chipping Norton (18 March).
- Stephen Graham