Claire Martin - Time & Place - Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange

What the hell is going on in jazz??? The trombone is making a strong comeback (huzzah!!); the old Tin Pan Alley wave is finding itself not only in glorious revivification but also under attack at the same time, a new focus being laid upon the 60s and 70s in the same vein; Braziliana is reaching neoclassical heights (check out some of the Zoho label's zenith if you want to get knocked sideways); and now Claire Martin's appearing with a cello quartet? Holey schlamoley! What kind of cool drugs are circulating in the 00's, and why didn't I get any? Not only that but-I know you won't believe this but it's true-she turns in a cover of Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World in a way bitchin' tango/samba mode I know is going to have David himself chuckling and marveling. Who'd'a thunkit?

Actually, the CD is a mixture of cello accompaniments and a jazz quintet first popping up on the perky, swingin', classy Catch Me if You Can, not the old Dave Clark Five song but her own, an NYC-moderne hip show number that, as far as I know, hasn't yet appeared on Broadway but should. Bowie's Alladin Sane is a righteous groove, a classic album, but I've always dug Sold the World even more, and Joe Stilgoe's arrangement of the cellists (plus his piano) on the title song is way way hip here. I wish to hell the transference would've continued on his solo at the tail end instead of fading out, but all I had to do was trace back to his and Claire's quietly rending but affectionate version of the Beatles' She's Leaving Home and all was well.

Hey Yanks, ya say you're not too sure who Claire Martin is? Well, she's deemed the First Lady Of British Jazz and has earned the rare distinction of OBE (Order of the British Empire) along with Elton John and Mick Jagger (ironically, Bowie turned down his OBE, as did John Lennon) for her prolific contributions to the arts, this disc yet another, some of which even The Queen Mum will be shaking a hip to and then wistfully sighing as Martin's version of 'Round Midnight tugs at her majesty's royal heartstrings. Wouldn't surprise me a bit, in fact, if she gets up and waggles her royal behind to Laurence Cottle's killer basswork in it as well.

Don't get too taken in by my tongue-in-cheekery, though, as there's tons of class throughout Time and Place. Half the intrigue lies in exactly that, the blend of the genteel with the git-down, the acumen in conflating two worlds to come up with a third, advancing the latterday symphonics jazz adopted from its true source: classical music (what?, you think Ellington was drawing upon Skeeter 'N The Backwoods Boys?, oh hell no!). There are actually many spheres incorporated here, repeated listens illuminate that ever more markedly, and thus Claire Martin is right in tune with later generations now so dauntingly hybridizing everything in sight. That's what art's for.

Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
07 October 2014