COMPOSERS: CLAIRE MARTIN • RICHARD RODNEY BENNETT
PERFORMER: Claire Martin (vocals), Richard Rodney Bennett (piano & vocals)
CATALOGUE NO: AKD 359
At the risk of causing a scene like those in classic horror films when the inn falls silent and all faces are turned towards the stranger, I have to announce that this album is less than perfect for a couple of niggling reasons, so let’s get them out of the way.
Firstly, the close-captured recording of Claire Martin’s voice has an irritating sibilance that cries out for the self-explanatory studio process known as ‘de-essing’. Secondly, while Sir Richard is both a national treasure and a multi-talented Leonardo of modern music, he sings like a raddled pub entertainer; here, his well-intentioned occasional supporting vocals fill a much-needed void.
All that said, this long-standing duo is a near-perfect match of singer and accompanist and the combination of these particular performers and the wit and elegance of the Cy Coleman songbook could never result in an actual failure. Recommended-ish with caveats. Roger Thomas