Notes and Editorial Reviews
Britain's leading female jazz singer Claire Martin will return to the studio to record her new album "A Modern Art". The album is a personal reflection of what it takes to be a musician in the 21st century and features two brand new self-penned tracks.
Claire Martin - vocals
Gareth Williams - piano
Laurence Cottle - bass
Nigel Hitchcock - alto sax
Mark Nightingale - trombone
Phil Robson - guitar
James Maddren - drums
Chris Dagley - drums
Sola Akingbola - percussion
Why A Modern Art?
On my last recording I explored the repertoire of the great Shirley Horn to pay my own personal tribute. This time I was keen
to record a selection of new material, songs which I feel define me as an individual, and as a jazz singer in the 21st century.
I have always chosen to sing contemporary material from "outside" the Great American Songbook, alongside lesser-known standards and original compositions. In doing so I have strived to find new songs that can stand alongside the classics we associate with the greats including Ella, Sarah, Betty and Carmen.
Only two of the songs on this album are by classic composers: Cy Coleman's ?Everybody Today Is Turning On' and Rodgers & Hart's ?Everything I've Got Belongs To You'. Elsewhere, I have chosen songs from some of my favourite writers: Michael Franks, Donald Fagen and Rebekka Bakken. Mark Winkler has contributed lyrics to a great Joshua Redman melody; lyricist Colin Lazzerini has introduced me to two songs I'm proud to have recorded, and the heartfelt ?As We Live and Breathe' is by my friend, and New York Voices' vocalist, Lauren Kinhan. I was really saddened by the untimely death of Esbjörn Svensson. His beautiful ballad ?Love Is Real', co-written with Josh Hayden, is a song I recently discovered and I hope makes a fitting tribute to a much-missed musician.
The title song ?A Modern Art' was written by me with Laurence Cottle and it's my own take on celebrity culture and the mass dumbing-down of musical standards in popular music. Jazz remains as vibrant and relevant as ever and can indeed gain a mass appeal - I'm sure of it! In fact, I'm on a mission, and if you're reading this you've already helped my cause! Please spread the word that jazz isn't an inaccessible art form that is too difficult to understand, nor do you have to wear an anorak and listen to trad in some muddy field in unforgiving British weather. Jazz is a thoroughly Modern Art form and this is my version!
I hope you'll enjoy this album.
1. Everything I?ve Got Belongs To You
2. So Twentieth Century
3. Love Is Real
5. A Modern Art
6. Edge Ways
7. Love of Another
9. Everybody Today Is Turning On
10. Sunday Morning Here With You
12. Things I Miss The Most
13. As We Live and Breathe
19 August 2009
One of the problems of the relatively insular jazz scene in the UK is ubiquity. You see an artist over the years, and you think you know their story. But artists grow, they mature and suddenly they can turn around and take you by surprise. Which is what A Modern Art does. Claire Martin has always been a talented and exciting singer, but with this album, she gives evidence of both maturity and being at one with her art in a way that builds on He Never Mentioned Love, her previous album. She could always sing a good song well, but like many recordings by Ella Fitzgerald there was a sense of remaining at arms length from the emotional subtext of the lyrics. But here she seems intent on conveying each song's inner meaning, revealing an emotional depth that was perhaps missing on earlier albums such as Off Beat. This is revealed on pieces such as ?Love of Another' and ?As We Live and Breathe' and even witty pieces such as ?The Things I Miss the Most' or ?So Twentieth Century'. To paraphrase Robert Graves, Claire Martin is really very good, despite all the people who say she's very good.
15 May 2009
There are singers - and then there are singers: Those able to wring every nuance and emotion out of a melody and a lyric, present it stylishly, and with every word crystal clear.
Truly this wonderful pairing lived up to that billing with something to spare.
Although both are known for their work in the jazz world, Claire Martin and Ian Shaw covered vast amounts of ground in the popular music field - from Stevie Wonder, through Gilbert O'Sullivan to Jimmy Van Heusen and Burt Bacharach - all interpreted with supreme musicianship.
The pair's styles complement each other, with Ian Shaw's bluesy vocals providing a counterpoint to Claire Martin's more jazz-tinged approach. Mix this with Shaw's humour (he is far funnier than some of today's alleged stand-ups) and you have an evening to remember.
Backed by only Shaw's classy piano, the pair set a swinging standard with the old Sammy Kahn favourite, Teach Me Tonight, and then cleverly mixed high octane swingers with sentimental ballads in a varied programme. Particularly memorable were a pulsating styling of Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi, Claire Martin's tribute to the late Esbjorn Svensson with his song Love Is Real, and Shaw's poignant version of Tom Waits' Take It With Me.
A full house responded enthusiastically and clearly would have liked this concert to go on far longer.
By Jupiter: Everything I've Got Belongs to You
Everybody Today Is Turning On
Sunday Morning Here with You
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