Claire Martin - Devil May Care - Jazz Express

This is Claire Martin's second release for Linn Records, and if her debut was good this one is even better. On Devil May Care, she displays a growing maturity and confidence, a wonderful sensuous voice and a fine sense of timing and phrasing.

Musicians, I guess, must love backing a talent such as this, and once again the pleasing task falls to Jim Mullen(guitar), Jonathan Gee(piano/organ), Arnie Somogyi(bass), and Clark Tracey(drums). Nigel Hitchcock and Iain Ballamy on saxes, and trombonist Rick Taylor make guest appearances, and like the others play impressively throughout. Backing vocals, which are a welcome addition to some of the tracks, also come from within these ranks.

Although Claire handles up-tempo numbers like By Myself with consumate ease, it is on the slower ones like Noel Coward's If Love Were All and the mournful Close Enough for Love on which she is backed only by Jim Mullen's tasteful guitar that she excels. Nigel Hitchcock's alto work on The Sun Was Falling From The Sky is also worth a special mention.

Indeed, it's hard to find fault with this release. The choice of musicians, the choice of material (some of it self-penned) and the main protagonist's performance all add to a sophisticated and tasteful example of home-grown jazz.

If, in this genre, Carol Kidd is the Queen, Claire Martin could well be the Princess Royal.

Jazz Express
01 June 2003