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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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He Never Mentioned Love

Linn AKP 298




1. He Never Mentioned Love
2. Forget Me
3. Everything Must Change
4. Trav'llin' Light
5. The Music That Makes Me Dance
6. All Night Long
7. If You Go
8. A Song For You
9. Slowly but Shirley
10. You're Nearer
11. L.A. Breakdown
12. Slow Time
13. The Sun Died
Claire Martin - Vocals
Gareth Williams - Piano
Laurence Cottle- Bass
Clark Tracey - Drums
Jim Mullen - Guitar
Gerard Presencer - Flugelhorn
Nigel Hitchcock - Saxophone
Steve Watts - Bass
Massimo Marraccini - Percussion

Nowadays I tend to flinch when I'm offered a new album by a lady singer, as I've had some nasty experiences with so-called jazz vocalists who can't sing in tune and have the jazz sensibility of a flea. However, I don't flinch when approaching an album by Claire Martin, as she is a genuine jazz vocalist who can actually sing in tune, with feeling.

Her feeling is heartfelt on this new CD, as it's a tribute to Shirley Horn, one of her favourite singers, who died in 2005. Claire evinces the same sort of care about songs as Shirley was famous for. Claire doesn't imitate Shirley directly, although their voices both have a similar breathy delivery.

Shirley Horn was notable for her restraint - seldom going over the top - and Claire matches this quality. This could make the album samey but variety is provided by the accompanying musicians. Pianist Gareth Williams is an eternally sensitive accompanist, while Jim Mullen and Gerard Presencer add varied solos and backings to several tracks. Note, for instance, Jim Mullen's bluesy solos on Trav'llin' Light and L. A. Breakdown.

Trav'llin' Light is actually one case where Claire's singing is not infallible, as her intonation wavers slightly. And the lyrics are occasionally indistinct, as in The Music That Makes Me Dance, where the piano is rather too loud. In fact the balance often favours the backing musicians at the expense of the singer. All the songs are associated with Shirley Horn, with the exception of Slowly but Shirley which is a Martin/Williams composition saluting Shirley. Overall this is a worthy tribute to a fine but somewhat neglected jazz singer.

Tony Augarde


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