WBGO Radar

Claire Martin: Time And Place

Album image

Vocalist Claire Martin is not shy, and it shows in her voice and songs. Both are world-wise, and speak of life that knows both loss and love.

Time And Place is Martin's eighteenth album for the Glasgow-based audiophile label Linn Records, and and it captures her takes on everything from Kurt Weill to George Gershwin, Lennon & McCartney and David Bowie.

The album pairs Martin with the Brighton-based Montpellier Cello Quartet. and their chemistry creates many of the album's pleasures, from the opening track, Kurt Weill's "My Ship," to Geoff Keezer's "Featherfall" and Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World," which comes to life here as a soaring tango, with the quartet evoking the quiver of a bandoneón.

The strings add valuable colors to pianist Joe Stilgoe's "Lost For Words," Joni Mitchell's nugget "Two Grey Rooms," and "Round Midnight," which also features a memorable duet with electric bassist Lawrence Cottle. Yet the band, with Jeremy Brown on acoustic bass, Gareth Williams on piano and Ben Reynolds on drums, also shines and swings on on the straight-ahead tracks without strings, such as "Early To Bed" and Martin's Brazil-tinged arrangement of "Catch Me If You Can."

The album closes with "Goodbye For Now" by pianist and composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Martin's longtime collaborator, who passed away in 2012. The cabaret song, performed with just voice and piano, is a fitting tribute to Bennett, and captures Martin's spirit at its best: she is wistfully clear-eyed and optimistic as only those who have truly lived can be. 

- Tim Wilkins, WBGO digital content producer 

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