Claire Martin - He Never Mentioned Love - The Star Ledger
Though little known in the United States until this year, when she made her debut at the famed Oak Room in New York, Martin is an established jazz star in England. Her tribute album to her mentor Shirley Horn explains why. Martin uses understatement and nuance to slip into a song's skin. Like Horn, she rejects embellishment and acrobatics in favor of an unforced, heartfelt, conversational approach.
The title track ballad showcases Martin's low voice, which twists around the wistful lyrics like smoke. "The Music That Makes Me Dance" is another slow-cooked treat; check out the singer's seemingly effortless phrasing and perfect intonation. While the CD is dominated by pensive tempos, there are fine faster numbers such as "Forget Me," which finds pianist Gareth Williams, drummer Clark Tracey and bassist Laurence Cottle locked in and swinging. Along with songs from Horn's repertoire, the album includes two pieces written in the late singer's honor: "Slowly But Shirley" and "Slow Time." It's hard to imagine Horn not being impressed with Martin's tribute.