Rex Reed The New York Observer
Too Darn Hot! (Linn Records AKD 198) is Claire Martin’s ninth album for Linn Records. Claire makes a welcome return to her jazz roots with a "dream-team" line-up of UK jazz musicians. Visit http://www.linnrecords.com/ to download soundclips and find out more.
This album features many songs from the Great American Song Book: Rogers and Hammerstein's The Gentleman is a Dope, Leonard Bernstein’s Something’s Coming from West Side Story, a superb arrangement of Cole Porter’s Too Darn Hot!, as well as luscious readings of When I Fall in Love and Black Coffee. These tracks are alongside new material by Joel Siegel (Noir) and Geoffrey Keezer (Four Walls) whilst Claire once again pays homage to one of her key influences Joni Mitchell with the final track Blue Motel Room, an a cappella duet with Ian Shaw.
Collaborating with producer Richard Cottle, Too Darn Hot! features the cream of British talent and features Nigel Hitchcock, Gareth Williams, Laurence Cottle, Ian Thomas, Clark Tracey and Phil Robson. Special guest artists include the much-acclaimed pianist Geoff Keezer who is featured on his own composition Four Walls which was written for Claire. The Tapestry String Quartet play on two arrangements by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, again written especially for Claire, It’s Raining in my Heart and When I Fall in Love. Sir Richard has been a champion of Claire's work since her debut album The Waiting Game (Linn Records AKD 018) for which he wrote the liner notes.
Introducing Claire Martin.....
Claire Martin achieved instant recognition with her 1992 debut album, The Waiting Game, which was chosen as one of The Times (London)records of the year. Sir Richard Rodney Bennett concluded his liner notes for the album with the unabashed exclamation: 'This record knocks me out!' Tony Bennett was equally enthusiastic when he appeared on the same bill as Claire at the Glasgow Jazz Festival and has since had the pleasure of sketching Claire during a recent awards ceremony.
Claire has a keen interest in all areas of popular music from jazz to pop. On her recordings, songs by Harold Arlen and Irving Berlin rub shoulders with Stevie Wonder, Phoebe Snow and Milton Nascimento, reflecting her eclectic roots. Claire counts Shirley Horn, Joni Mitchell, Betty Carter and Ella Fitzgerald among her stylistic influences.
In January 1995 Claire made her American debut with four sell-out shows at The Nest in Washington DC to great acclaim from the Washington Post and The Village Voice. Later that year Claire won the Best British Vocalist category at the British Jazz Awards, and took her group to Ronnie Scott's to make her first live album, entitled Offbeat (Linn Records AKD 046), which includes an outstanding interpretation of Phoebe Snow's Something Real.
New York Times contributor James Gavin, author of The History of New York Cabaret wrote: 'In an era when young jazz singers tend to sound far too much like their idols there's no mistaking the voice of Claire Martin who combines a cool, burnished tone with the ear of a born musician.'
Following enthusiastic reviews for her appearances in the United States, Claire recorded Make This City Ours (Linn Records AKD 066) in New York, her fifth album for Linn and featuring an international line-up including American saxophonist Antonio Hart.
In March 1996 Claire appeared as guest vocalist on Years Apart (Linn Records AKD 058) with guitarist Martin Taylor recreating the 1934 Hot Club of France. Claire recorded Undecided, originally sung by Beryl Davis. Claire also provided the lyrics for the title track and had the pleasure of recording in Paris alongside the legendary violinist Stephane Grappelli, who described her as ‘a wonderful artist, who swings and has such warmth to her voice.'
The sixth album to be released was Take My Heart (Linn Records AKD 093). This was a change of direction for Claire she started to explore other genres including soul, R&B, folk, and rock. For example, Claire was joined by Noel Gallagher (Oasis) on the track Help and she also covered a Nick Drake track, Riverman. Following on from these explorations Claire released her seventh album Perfect Alibi (Linn Records AKD 122), in April 2000, this time with an appearance by guest artist John Martyn. Every Now and Then the Very Best of Claire Martin (Linn Records AKD 177) is a collection of the best tracks from the first seven albums. Too Darn Hot! is a welcome return to jazz for Claire Martin. It also heralds her first new material for 2 years.
Claire has performed throughout Europe and North America at festivals in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Canada and the United Kingdom including the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Harrogate International Festivals and with many of the world's great orchestras including the BBC Big Band and the RIAS Big Band in Berlin. In 2001 Claire toured the Far East, Europe, and Australia. In addition to her busy concert schedule Claire Martin presents 'Jazz Line-up' on BBC Radio 3.
Claire will be performing songs from Too Darn Hot at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz club, London, November 4th 9th 2002.