Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett - When Lights Are Low - www.jazzreview.com
With this collection of familiar and not so familiar songs from the pens of the great songwriters, vocalist Claire Martin and pianist/vocalist Sir Richard Rodney Bennett have taken us to a quieter and simpler moment in time. A delightful union of two of the UK's most recognized talents, it's refreshing to listen to great compositions flawlessly performed in such a pared down and immediate fashion. The efforts of Gershwin, Arlen, and Mercer, along with several other eloquent composers, have provided the spine for this duet recording. Bennett has further arranged them into splendid vehicles for conveying their unique singing styles, underscored by his first-rate piano playing. Each vocalist sings with great skill and delivers the message in an easy-going and relaxed manner. There's a husky texture and rich timbre inherent in both of their voices, and there are several opportunities to hear them individually put their personal stamp on these gems. On three of the tracks we are treated with these qualities blending like an elegant cocktail in their medley, harmony, and call/answer. Bennett is a fine pianist who truly understands the role of an accompanist, supporting and lifting the vocals in a sensitive and empathetic manner. His arrangements often include the use of the verses to the songs, setting up the feel and the mood perfectly, and his solos are clean and simply stated, revealing the great talent behind them in their sparseness. Highly accessible and gently affirming, this recording will relax and sooth even the most frazzled of nerves. It's like a loving conversation between good friends, with us being warmly welcomed to join in.