Claire Martin - A Modern Art -

"A Modern Art" is very much a contemporary jazz album scaling off -the- radar songs, with a pretty hot band supporting the 42 year-old Wimbledon born singer.

She kicks-off with standard fare - Rodgers and Hart's Everything I've Got Belongs To You written in the 40s, but brings a contemporary Steely Dan kick to the classic song. The alto sax and trombone players - Nigel Hitchcock and Mark Nightingale keep this really sharp and edgy a la SD.

Gareth Williams's piano rolls out a frenetic and complex So Twentieth Century with upright bassist Laurence Cottle having a ball dishing out some funky grooves and Hitchcock dazzling again on sharp urban sax solos. Martin keeps up with them adding a touch of huskiness to the mix.

Love Is Real, is a sympathetic tribute to its Swedish composer Esbjorn Svensson who died last year. It provides Martin with a chance to tackle a sweet and tender ballad, showing she can handle this kind of material with aplomb, sounding much like her vocal comfort zone, whereas on the more complex lowercase she lets rip, attacking the lyrics with disciplined urgency. The sax solo is mind-boggling, so is Williams' rippling piano work.

Bossa Nova tinged Edge Ways, a more straightforward outing, is spot-on for Martin's sometimes seductive tones.

Nightingale's Latino flavoured trombone blasts add hot textures to this nippy little number. A later As We Live And Breathe is equally impressive, keeping the Latin sauce nice'n'hot.

Lounge-lazy Totally comes across as a cabaret throwaway synonymous with Liza Minelli. Williams dazzles again on keys - this smokey, cool song is well executed with flourishes of retro-blues via the organ, making it the best song here.

Funky Steely Dan grooves drive upbeat Everybody Today Is Turning On ...and a splendid Promises. Then it's a cover of the real thing - the Dan's Things I Miss The Most from 2003's superb 'Everything Must Go'. Here she gives it more urgency compared to Walt and Don's reflective loungy timbre, but works well enough.

A stripped back and sultry Nirvana shows-off Martin's voice better than any other song here.

The verdict? Super collection.
12 October 2009