Claire Martin - Time & Place - Blogcritics
With 17 albums for Linn Records under her belt, it is little wonder that Claire Martin is so often called "the first lady of British jazz." Not only has she earned that title by virtue of quantity, quantity means little without quality, and musical quality is what defines Martin's performance.
Take her latest, an 11-tune compilation called Time and Place. Working with a fairly typical small jazz ensemble supplemented by the decidedly atypical Montpellier Cello Quartet, she puts her own stamp on everything from pages from the Great American Songbook like Ira Gershwin/Kurt Weill's "My Ship," to brilliant interpretations of modern classics like The Beatles' (Lennon-McCartney) "She's Leaving Home." Martin is as at home with a jazz classic like "'Round Midnight" as she is with a powerful new arrangement of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," using the cello quartet is an integral part of the performance and not merely a gimmick.
She takes a sprightly jaunt through "Early to Bed," a tune by longtime collaborator Richard Rodney Bennett (who passed away in 2012) and Frank Underwood. Pianist Joe Stilgoe joins Martin for a sensitive rendition of his tune "Lost for Words." She handles the George Gershwin blues number "My Man's Gone Now" with a soft intensity and something of a modernist torch touch punctuated by the Cello Quartet. Martin also adds an emotionally intense reading of Joni Mitchell's "Two Grey Rooms," which is arranged here by Mark Anthony Turnage.
Time and Place is Claire Martin at the top of her game.