Claire Martin - A Modern Art - The Guardian

Claire Martin doesn't do makeovers, or market repositionings - she's a consummate jazz singer with old-school virtues, and she wins plaudits everywhere she works. But her repertoire has always ranged way beyond the standards book, and this fine 13th album features only one Broadway song, plus material by Steely Dan, Michael Franks and more. The title track is a messianic original on jazz's evolving essence (written with bassist Laurence Cottle), and features some sparkling Nigel Hitchcock alto and Gareth Williams piano - Hitchcock and trombonist Mark Nightingale sound like a much bigger section on Cottle's funky horn arrangements. Martin's voice sounds richer and her delivery more relaxed than before, and if one or two of the Latin grooves and sumptuous textures occasionally give the set a smooth-jazz quality, its title track's sentiment resists. The continuing refinement of this elegant artist is palpable.

18 September 2009