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Claire Martin and Richard Rodney Bennett: When Lights Are Low

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A perfectly mixed rusty nail requires three parts scotch to one part Drambuie. It’s a potent recipe that accurately describes the first full-length pairing of old pals Claire Martin and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett.

Drambuie is a honey-smooth concoction that masks a powerful kick, and that’s Martin. For my money she’s not only the finest female British jazz singer of her generation but possibly of all time. Martin handles vocal duty on six of the disc’s 16 tracks. The mellow, well-aged scotch is the multitalented Bennett. Though best known for his film-composition work, the dexterous 74-year-old is equally skilled as an arranger and pianist, as demonstrated throughout this masterful olio of familiar standards and lesser-known treasures. It is, though, Bennett the underappreciated singer who here impresses most.

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