I have all Claire's original albums and I love them all. In the previous two, she experimented by introducing pop/rock into her music, but there is no evidence of that here. Although Claire has included covers of pop/rock songs, they have been re-arranged and re-interpreted such that they are nothing like the originals.
Perhaps the most dramatic transformation is of Buddy Holly's Raining in my heart. Although essentially a sad song, Buddy did it as an uptempo rock'n'roll song. Claire slows it right down in keeping with the mood of the lyrics. With jazz instrumentation and the different tempo, the song is almost unrecognisable from the original.
Claire, who's smoky alto voice sounds as good as ever, also gives the jazz treatment to I can let go now (Michael McDonald) and Blue motel room (Joni Mitchell) with equally impressive results.
When I fall in love (originally an American hit for Doris Day in the early fifties, but most commonly associated with Nat King Cole, who had a huge hit with it in the late fifties and again in the late eighties) has been covered frequently down the years, but Claire and her musicians have found a way to give even this song a fresh arrangement, and it works brilliantly.
Another great cover is Black Coffee, originally recorded by Peggy Lee in the early fifties. There are several other covers of old standards, including Too darn hot, The gentleman is a dope and These foolish things, all nicely updated for the new millenium.
There are at least two new songs - Love is a necessary evil and Four walls - but this album is most notable for the new treatments of old classics.
Jazz fans will welcome Claire's return to her roots. Personally, I enjoy her singing in whatever style she chooses, because Claire is among the best singers to be found anywhere today, in any type of music.
on 1 November 2002
I have been privileged to hear, watch and know Claire Martin for some time, and it is with immense joy that I listen to her latest CD, "Too Darn Hot".
Claire's singing is informed by great musicality, she has the kind of rare vocal jazz mentality that is in equal parts inspiring and easy. She makes her musical choices, in her delivery, sound effortless. She can be completely understated, and filled with voice and quality, she can storm the barricades or sit it out with style.
Her arrangements on this CD frame her vocals perfectly. Her musicians are superb. This is contemporary vocal jazz music that both understands its musical heritage and has its roots deep in the genre, and also pushes the envelope, tries to go somewhere new, in both the song choices and musical explorations.
The recording itself is faultless. Claire's voice is exactly where it should be, centre stage.
I am picky about singers and singing, and get to listen to many, and I hope that jazz enthusiasts and lovers of great singing and music alike will embrace and recognise Claire Martin's superb vocal talent on her new CD.
These are good times in the jazz department, female section; a whole lotta talented, good-looking girls singing jazz right now, and here's another: Claire Martin of the United Kingdom. She's been called the first lady of British jazz by people who ought to know. The album at hand, "Too Darn Hot!" was acclaimed an instant classic on its release by such as "Jazz Times," one of America's leading jazz magazines. Martin has given her musical influences as Judy Garland, Ella Fitzgerald, and Betty Carter, all great ladies of American song, so why wouldn't we appreciate her? This album is her ninth in ten years, released on Linn, the prestigious Scottish jazz label. It's cleverly crafted, a well-balanced blend of standards, show tunes, new lesser-known tunes; and it's been released in super audio hybrid CD to sound all the better.
Martin opens on a jazzy, uptempo, fresh, full of anticipation version of Leonard Bernstein's classic "Something's Coming." We've also certainly heard "Black Coffee," one of Peggy Lee's signature tunes, "When I Fall In Love," "Love at Last," "The Gentleman is a Dope," and "These Foolish Things" before, some of them sung by the best, but Martin has come up with fresh arrangements here. She does the same for the title song, Cole Porter's "Too Darn Hot." "It's Raining in My Heart" is a beautiful rainbow. "Love At Last" swings Latin. "Noir" is notoriously quite difficult musically, but Martin's got the chops for it; she takes it at speed, no sweat. Sir Richard Rodney Bennett plays piano and joins her in a couple of vocals: the girl hangs in good company, too.