Claire Martin & Ray Gelato - We've Got A World That Swings - Straits Times
English jazz tradition is a small but hardy offshoot and, once in a while, there will be a surprising bloom that takes you by surprise.
This duet album from English musicians, singer Claire Martin and singer/saxophonist Ray Gelato, is one such unexpected pleasure.
Martin has a mellow mezzo she wields with light confidence, while Gelato's singing recalls Tony Bennett's big belting holler in terms of timbre and delivery, except without the evident strain that has tainted Bennett's recent efforts.
The programme of standards sticks mostly to swing, with a barnstorming detour into bebop with a tongue-twisting take on Ornithology.
What lifts the songs are the effervescent delivery and smart arrangements. The pop trifle All I Do Is Dream Of You is driven by Sebastian de Krom's sturdy four- four time on the drums and pianist David Newton's melodic scribbling.
The best duets are the old chestnuts, C'est Si Bon! and Come Dance With Me, where the vocal exchanges are like relaxed banter between old friends, and Gelato willingly harmonises with Martin's purer lines.
A swinging charmer that lives up to the promise in the album's title.