Claire Martin - A Modern Art - The Jazz Rag

Here's Claire's new one, recorded in March 2009. As ever, her backing team is first-rate, with Gareth Williams on piano, Phil Robson on guitar, Laurence Cottle on bass, and James Maddren or Chris Dagley on drums, plus front-line and solo work by Nigel Hitchcock on alto and the ubiquitous Mark Nightingale on trombone. Her opener, Everything I've Got, is the only song that falls into the ‘standard' category, but her spirited version is imbued with a funky beat and has an extra set of good lyrics added.

Claire's admirable object continues to be to demonstrate that worthwhile material can exist away from the distant past. So Twentieth Century is a worldly-wise comment on the way we live now. Love Is Real is an evocative ballad by the late pianist Esbjorg Svensson. Lower Case, utilising a Joshua Redman original, is the first one I find lyrically hard to comprehend, but her own title theme which follows also evades me - a great pity, as it's apparently about making jazz more accessible.

Her other compositions here, Edgeways has literate lyrics that can be fully discerned, in Latin vein. Love of Another, by Rebecca Bakken, is all sung, in a measured tango-type rhythm. A topical Totally comes at a nice piano/organ-based easy pace. Among later ear-catchers are Donald Fagen's Things I Miss The Most and Lauren Kinhan's As We Live And Breathe - both Latin, but contrastingly appealing. Finally, Nirvana finds Claire alone with Phil Robson, at her most expressive.

The Jazz Rag
16 November 2009