Claire Martin - He Never Mentioned Love - The Guardian

If anyone can get away with a Shirley Horn tribute, it's Claire Martin, whose subtle musical intelligence and jazz sensibilities have been deepening for a long time. True, Martin's skills can sometimes shield her emotions - but there's nowhere to hide in Shirley Horn's repertoire, since the late Washington singer and musicians' musician (Miles was a big fan, so is Diana Krall) liked sleepwalking tempos, and the minimum of artifice and ornament. On this set of smoky mood-pieces exploring her rich lower range, Martin is supported by a fine-tuned band including pianist Gareth Williams, with guest roles for guitarist Jim Mullen and trumpeter Gerard Presencer. There's a Betty Carter-like touch to the casual note-bends on Everything Must Change, and The Music That Makes Me Dance highlights the delicate weighting of phrases from both Martin and Williams. An improvised jam with Gerard Presencer at the end of All Night Long is a loose and animated episode that could have been prolonged. LA Breakdown accelerates from slow musing to a Ray Charles-like soulfulness, with Mullen in his element. It's low-lights, maybe somewhat dinner-jazzy music, but it's as classy as anything Claire Martin has recorded.

01 June 2007