He Never Mentioned Love

Our rating 
5.0 out of 5 star rating 5.0

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Linn
ALBUM TITLE: Claire Martin
PERFORMER: Claire Martin (vocals), Gareth Williams (piano), Clark Tracey (drums), Laurence Cottle, Steve Watts (bass), Jim Mullen (guitar), Gerard Presencer (flugelhorn), Massimo Marraccini (percussion)
CATALOGUE NO: AKD 295 (hybrid CD/SACD)

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This is a gorgeous piece of work. Claire Martin’s not short of accolades (the most recent being a BBC Jazz Award nomination), but ultimately listeners seek out the proof of the pudding. Well, here’s an unmissable hour’s worth of exactly that, in which Martin celebrates one of her most significant influences, Shirley Horn.

There’s no shortage of recordings on which singers cover songs made famous by other singers, describe the results as a ‘tribute’, then reap the benefits of listeners’ displaced enthusiasm. This, however, is something quite different.

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Horne was mainly known for investing slow, insinuating ballads with an extraordinary degree of emotional intensity, which in itself is one of the trickiest areas of jazz singing. Martin not only succeeds in this but makes these songs her own. The recording is immaculate, but my advance copy is a CD-only version, so the SACD should be even better.