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09/23/12

Claire Martin & Kenny Barron
Too Much In Love to Care
Linn Records

Claire Martin’s 14th release represents multiple milestones for the British vocalist: her first Stateside recording in 15 years, her first to use exclusively American musicians, her first devoted exclusively to selections from the Great American Songbook and the disc that marks her 20th anniversary with the London-based Linn label. It is also as near-perfect a vocal album as you’re ever likely to hear. Martin, who has always cited Ella Fitzgerald and Shirley Horn as major influences, can rightfully claim a place at their table.

In the liner notes, Martin explains that when performing live she is always aware of the “faint sigh of relief” whenever she sings a familiar tune, hence the all-standards playlist. Among her 13 selections are several of the most-recorded songs of all time—“Embraceable You,” “Time After Time,” “Crazy He Calls Me,” “How Long Has This Been Going On?” and “I Only Have Eyes for You” among them. Less assured singers would be tempted to tart up such chestnuts. But Martin appreciates that great songs are best served straight up, requiring no adornment beyond exceptional accompaniment. And exceptional it is, as shaped by pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Peter Washington (who also played on Martin’s previous New York session, back in 1997), drummer Kenny Washington and saxophonist/flutist Steve Wilson. Like Martin, these fine craftsmen have no interest in grandstanding, remaining individually and collectively content to gently, gorgeously amplify the exquisite beauty of her slightly parched vocals.

Originally published in September 2012
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