Claire Martin & Richard Rodney Bennet - Time out London

When we previewed their show last year we described Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennet as a slightly camp odd-couple: the cheeky sarf London diva and the bow-tie-wearing toff; the peerless jazz singer and the ex-Pierre Boulez student best known for his soundtrack to ‘Four wedding and a funeral'. But what started out as a bit of fun for two old friends (Bennet wrote the liner notes to Martin's first album) has become something much more.

They share a passion for storytelling, the sort of songs written by the likes of George Gershwin, Johnny Mercer and even Elvis Costello, and it's that love of the lyric which is the core of their album ‘When the lights are low'. It's a magical, intimate affair recorded in New York and featuring just them and the piano. Martin has rarely sung better; closely miked, she brings you the heart of song, quietly exploring every nuance and wringing every ounce of meaning from the words. Bennet, meanwhile is a revelation. He sings beautifully and plays the piano with gentle authority throughout, his composer's ear letting him elucidate the songs with the minimum of fuss. In fact, the album benefits form an admirable lack of fannying around, just two great singers interpreting great songs.

07 September 2005