Claire Martin - Time & Place - London Jazz

Time and Place is Claire Martin's 17th release for Linn Records- a wondrous collection of old and new songs featuring the Montpellier Cello Quartet on seven of the eleven tracks. It could be regarded as somewhat of a tribute to the great composer, songwriter and pianist/vocalist, Richard Rodney Bennett, a frequent collaborator of Claire's over the past twenty years up until his untimely death in 2012.

In addition to his winning four celli arrangement of Kurt Weill's My Ship, two other songs of Bennett's, Early To Bed and Goodbye For Now are included in a quintet format. Needless to say, the latter song closes the proceedings giving the collection a poignant send-off without being mawkish or sentimental.

Ms Martin's voice is ideal for both jazz and popular song with its mellowed huskiness and somewhat veiled tonal quality which is offset by a sharp rhythmic perkiness that suits her material well. Composer/arranger Nigel Waddington, whose 2010 big band CD Bigger Pictures includes Claire guesting on one track states it best when he describes her interpretive skills. "She's not interested in apeing a particular style, sounding any particular way- smoky, jazzy or whatever...why not? Because she's too busy inhabiting the song. It sounds like the only thing that she cares about is the music and not how she should be making it sound. It feels like the music is coming straight out of the writer's brain, channelled through her without picking up any grit, self indulgence or baggage on its journey". Well said, Nigel.

An outstanding band boasts the likes of Gareth Williams' fleet and dynamic pianisms along with Jeremy Brown's lyrical bass which coalesce fittingly with drummer Ben Reynolds' rhythmic agility. Electric bassist Laurence Cottle makes a guest appearance on his brilliant arrangement of "Round Midnight" which effectively intertwines his unique sound amongst the vertically linear motifs of the first-rate Montpellier Cello Quartet.

Unique treatments abound from the pens of Joe Stilgoe of his song, Lost For Words, Simon Woolf's reading of My Man's Gone Now as well as Mark-Anthony Turnage's take on Joni Mitchell's Two Grey Rooms. In addition, pianist Geoffrey Keezer's arrangement of his Featherfall provides a welcome contrast to the programme in summoning up a light and windy ambience portrayed by the flurry of celli in the air.

London Jazz
27 October 2014