Claire Martin - Too Darn Hot! - Jazzwise

Martin's ninth CD for Linn Records finds her successfully balancing a desire for accessibility with her more usual pursuits, looking for likely material in unlikely places. This time we don't get Tom Waits or Stevie Wonder, but we do get a bright and soulful new treatment of an old Buddy Holly hit, 'Raining In My Heart' , a humorously teasing and intense complaint about the weather on 'Too Darn Hot' , a song rarely looked at by other singers since Ella's version decades back, and a successful attempt to steal into Peggy Lee territory on her own terms with 'Black Coffee' . She has chosen her accompanying musicians carefully and well and manages to find worthwhile things for them to do, both in terms of arrangements and in moew improvised contexts. The focus is well and truly on the singer - thus making it radio friendly in a way many jazz singers' records are not, where the piano solo, sax solo or bass solo unaccountably interrupts an otherwise flawless reworking of a well-loved standard - and Martin easily has the ability to thrive under such scrutiny. Her voice is darker and more persuasive than on previous records, which is a positive development. All in all, a welcome return by the singer after a lengthy break from the recording studio.

30 April 2002