Claire Martin and Ian Shaw live - Norfolk and Norwich Festival

There are singers - and then there are singers: Those able to wring every nuance and emotion out of a melody and a lyric, present it stylishly, and with every word crystal clear.

Truly this wonderful pairing lived up to that billing with something to spare.

Although both are known for their work in the jazz world, Claire Martin and Ian Shaw covered vast amounts of ground in the popular music field - from Stevie Wonder, through Gilbert O'Sullivan to Jimmy Van Heusen and Burt Bacharach - all interpreted with supreme musicianship.

The pair's styles complement each other, with Ian Shaw's bluesy vocals providing a counterpoint to Claire Martin's more jazz-tinged approach.  Mix this with Shaw's humour (he is far funnier than some of today's alleged stand-ups) and you have an evening to remember.

Backed by only Shaw's classy piano, the pair set a swinging standard with the old Sammy Kahn favourite, Teach Me Tonight, and then cleverly mixed high octane swingers with sentimental ballads in a varied programme.  Particularly memorable were a pulsating styling of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi, Claire Martin's tribute to the late Esbjorn Svensson with his song Love Is Real, and Shaw's poignant version of Tom Waits' Take It With Me.

A full house responded enthusiastically and clearly would have liked this concert to go on far longer.

15 May 2009