Claire Martin - He Never Mentioned Love - Website

A loving tribute to the late Shirley Horn, this is a highly-polished set of very gentle, nuanced recordings that not just anyone could pull off. Ms. Martin is often called "The UK's finest jazz singer."  This disc makes a strong case. Ms. Horn's biography tells its own story, and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett's notes at the Linn Records website tell that story better than any summary I could provide, so let's talk about this recording.

When first I heard Ms. Martin, I bought up her whole catalog at import prices. This disc is a fine addition to the collection. Quiet, and intense - Ms. Martin's voice doesn't shout for attention, it simply draws one in. I end up captivated by choice, and this can never be background music for me.

Highlights include Ms. Horn's classic "He Never Mentioned Love," a surprise - the Leon Russell semi classic "A Song For You," and Ms. Martin and the band swing nicely on "All Night Long."

The backing band frames Ms. Martin's voice very well - each takes his solo turn well, but never ever detracts from Ms. Martin. Of particular note are Gareth Williams on Piano, Steve Watts on Bass and Gerard Presencer on Flugelhorn.

Ms. Martin's recordings are released through Linn Records in Scotland, a label started by a company that makes high-end audio gear in the UK.  Go to their website and they'll tell you that they started the label because they couldn't find recordings that were good enough to adequately test their equipment.

Audio engineers aren't the only ones impressed by Ms. Martin's voice.  And you'll have the chance to be impressed, too - on this side of the Atlantic.  Ms. Martin plays the prestigious Oak Room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York - June 26 to July 6.

Highly recommended.
05 June 2007