Claire Martin - A Modern Art - Jazz Times

She ranks among the four or five finest female jazz vocalists on the planet (it wouldn't be overstatement to recognize her as Anita O'Day's rightful heiress), and on the rare occasion she performs stateside, the crowds are invariably SRO. So it's hard to fathom why Claire Martin, a household name in her native U.K. and a perennial British poll winner, remains so underappreciated on this side of the Atlantic. Maybe it's because those visits are so rare, or perhaps because her albums aren't always easy to find. Well, with the advent of iTunes, almost her entire output is just a click away. As a starting point, you'll be hard pressed to do better than her latest release.

Though Richard Rodgers, notoriously finicky about re-interpretations of his songs would surely be enraged by the "Everything I've Got Belongs to You" which opens A Modern Art, Martin's impishly funkified treatment is marvelous. The rest of the play list bows to more contemporary compositions, most notably Mark Winkler's tenderly distressing "lowercase" and Cy Coleman's delightfully wry "Everybody Today Is Turning On". Lauren Kinhan's affecting "As We Live and Breathe" is ideally mated with a sharp, Bossa reinvention of Steely Dan's "Things I Miss the Most."

Equally superb are two self- penned additions. "Edge Ways" provides brilliant, backhanded condemnation of the chronically self absorbed, while the title track offers delicious appraisal of modern society's celebrity obsession and the corresponding devaluation of genuine artistry.

01 April 2010