Claire Martin - Time & Place - Jazz History Online
On her new CD "Time and Place", Claire Martin salutes the memory of her friend and duet partner Richard Rodney Bennett. The opening track, a lush setting of "My Ship", was the last arrangement Bennett write for Martin, and one he never heard performed. The accompaniment of the Montpellier Cello Quartet brings out the rich tone of Martin's voice, and the emotion she draws from the sweeping melody and poignant lyrics makes this a particularly fine tribute to Bennett. Martin also includes two Bennett originals about aging and death: "Early to Bed" is about a person no longer willing to embrace the thrills of nightlife, and "Goodbye for Now" is a musical version of a last will and testament. While there are other pieces which could be interpreted as homages to Bennett (including a wondrously expressive "My Man's Gone Now") Martin is clearly ready to move forward with her life and career. That becomes apparent with the quick mood shift between the luxurious "My Ship" and the sprightly light-hearted "Catch Me If You Can" which follows. The backup is by Martin's rhythm section (pianist Gareth Williams, bassist Jeremy Brown and drummer Ben Reynolds) and Martin effortlessly takes on the part of an ultra-cool world traveler. Martin features her new duet partner, Joe Stilgoe, as pianist, arranger and background vocalist on the Beatles' tender "She's Leaving Home", and she imbues Stilgoe's original "Lost for Words" with supreme tenderness. Martin's longtime musical associate, Laurence Cottle, is featured on a remarkable arrangement of "Round Midnight", where the background alternates between the cellos and Cottle's electric bass. Martin's soulful reading of the Monk classic includes one chorus each of the Bernie Hanighen and Jon Hendricks lyrics. As with all of Martin's recordings, the audio quality is exceptional (the label Martin records for, Linn, is also a manufacturer of high-end stereo equipment). Since the disc is a hybrid SACD (which will play on all CD players) and an import, it may be a little more expensive than others, but as always with Claire Martin, it's worth the extra cost to hear this music.