Claire Martin - A Modern Art - Northern Echo (Jazz Notes)

Claire Martin has a head start in the field of young women singers which has become increasingly crowded over the last decade. Voted Best Vocalist a record five times at the BBC/British Jazz Awards, she is acknowledged as one of the world`s finest jazz singers.

Receiving wider fame as presenter of Jazz Line-Up on BBC Radio 3, Claire appears at jazz festivals worldwide.

17 years on from her debut album The Waiting Game, Linn Records has released her 13th CD, A Modern Art.

The dazzling arrangements are by Claire`s long-time musical collaborator, bass player Laurence Cottle, and he has surpassed himself here with charts worthy of Stevie Wonder or Steely Dan.

His syncopated version of Rodgers and Hart`s Everything I've Got Belongs To You has Nigel Hitchcock (alto saxophone) and Mark Nightingale (trombone) playing a tricky horn chart which has a direct line to Stevie's Sir Duke.

So Twentieth Century has a similarly dense brass arrangements which Donald Fagin would approve and witty lyrics by Colin Lazzerini to boot, plus a virtuoso saxophone solo from Hitchcock. Claire contributes lyrics on a couple of originals in partnership with music by Laurence Cottle, the title track and Edgeways, a bossa nova with overdubbed vocals by Claire and an effortlessly fluent solo from Mark Nightingale.

A Modern Art is the apt title for this album, which must go straight into the best of 2009 list. It is a stunning tribute to an outstanding jazz singer and an all star band, right up there with the classics such as the 1960s Mel Torme/Marty Paich albums. Techno-freaks will be delighted to learn that this new release is on Hybrid Super Audio Multichannel CD by Linn. 

11 September 2009