Claire Martin - live review - The Stage

Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett

A relaxed duo, both accomplished performers, offering up a delightful selection of songs, some rarely heard, provides the perfect form of entertainment for a venue that is fast regaining its popularity with an excellent choice of artists.

Eight years have passed since Claire Martin, jazz vocalist supreme, teamed up with Richard Rodney Bennett, highly rated composer and pianist, during which time their elegant presentation has brought them admiration in both London and New York, where they will be appearing at the Algonquin for two weeks at the end of May.

Their first set, entitled Witchcraft, features the music of Cy Coleman, a composer and pianist, like Bennett, who provides some interesting background material when introducing the lesser known of his songs. The second half produces a mixture of well chosen familiar and unfamiliar offerings, some swingers, some point numbers, both of which Martin handles with consummate ease.

It is a refreshing change to hear a singer with piano accompaniment rather than a complete rhythm section and Bennett's playing is perfection, which had me wondering why we are not treated to a piano feature or two as opposed to him sharing the vocalising on several of the songs. The occasional verse and duet is ideal and works well, such as on the ballad Sweet and Slow, where their two voices blend beautifully, but singing solo on around half a dozen offerings is maybe a few too many.

13 February 2009