After recording a selection of romantic songs and ballads from the Great American Songbook in the States with the legendary Kenny Barron on piano on Too Much In Love To Care, Claire Martin has recorded another album of standards, We’ve Got A World That Swings, this time in partnership with long term collaborator and friend, Ray Gelato.
The album’s title neatly sums up what you are about to hear, a superb collection of songs that swing from the outset and impeccably played that is guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face. The toe tapping immediately begins with the opening number, and continues through to the closing ‘Smack Dab In The Middle’. In between you will encounter all manner of treats and surprises.
To aid and abet them in the creation of this fun packed album Martin and Gelato have assembled a stellar rhythm section that know just what is required of them, and deliver in spades. David Newton is superb throughout, his accompaniment is as good as you could possibly wish for, and his solos are a model of the art of being succinct. Get in, say what you have to and get out again, seems to have been the approach adopted by the pianist; and with most of the tracks coming in at under the four minute mark this policy serves the music well. All of his contributions are tasteful, fit perfectly within the context of the song and have something pertinent to say..almost like having third vocalist.
Of the two leaders, Claire and Ray work together seamlessly, and their friendship and empathy are immediately apparent. With such a repertoire everyone will have their particular favourite tracks, but I have found my choice cuts are not the obvious choices. ‘C’st Si Bon!’ can only be described as delightful. The Latin tinged ‘The Coffee Song’ by Dick Miles and Bob Hilliard is a song that I had not heard before, and is superbly arranged and played here, and the lyrics (for a self confessed coffee addict) are great! The pair take a chance on Charlie Parker’s ‘Ornithology’, which in lesser hands could have been a bit of a car crash, and negotiate the tricky theme and the lyrics of Babs Gosalves with aplomb. With a couple of fine tenor breaks by Gelato, this track is another well chosen gem.
I must confess to preferring Gelato’s fuill toned tenor playing to his singing, but Claire Martin is the real deal and the highlight of the album must be her reading of ‘More Than You Know’, with some wonderful commentary from the saxophonist. At this stage in her career, Claire Martin is able to handle any material that she chooses to perform, totally owning the song and imbuing it with her own personality, and yet with total respect for the material and the composers intent.