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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Album Review: Callum Au and Claire Martin – Songs and Stories

Claire Martin needs no introduction and is well established as the doyenne of British jazz singers with many admirers, not least on BSH! She has won British Jazz Awards eight times, been awarded an OBE and received a BASCA Gold Badge Award for her services to jazz. Trombonist Callum Au has composed and arranged music in numerous genres, but especially for big band and large jazz ensembles.

In this collaboration they present a selection of American Songbook classics given modern orchestral and big band treatments.  The album features a total of 82 exceptional musicians from the UK, Europe and USA. Featured soloists and lead musicians include: Ryan Quigley, Andy Wood, Freddie Gavita, Nadim Teimoori, Sam Mayne, Louis Dowdeswell, Andy Martin, Matt Skelton, John Mills and conductor Mark Nightingale.  This is Claire Martin’s first big band or large orchestral recording.

Ms Martin has cornered the market in this particular musical genre – old romantic (i.e. not new romantic, pre-romantic, romantic or post-romantic).  “Young Turks” need read no further!

A warm brass fanfare opens Pure Imagination (Bricusse-Newley) with lush string orchestration underpinning the exquisitely delivered vocal line.  A fine solo from Gavita on trumpet is the icing on the cake.  Let’s Get Lost (Loesser-McHugh) is presented as a slow swing. Orchestration is less dense, permitting pianistic exploration by Rob Barron [aka Robin Hood - Ed].   

I Get Along Without You Very Well (Carmichael) is presented with full-on romantic (happy/sad) orchestration – strings very much to the fore, with subtle support from muted trumpet and woodwind.  A piano solo introduces and predominates in The Folks Who Live on the Hill (Kern-Hammerstein).  Restrained strings arrive late to the party, never intrusive.  Claire Martin puts her own stamp on this, perhaps over-familiar, piece.  Hello, Young Lovers! (Rodgers-Hammerstein) ups the tempo, a definite big band swing. 

I Concentrate on You (Cole Porter) has a more regular groove with orchestral support and a superb tenor solo from Nadim Teimoori.  Solo oboe and woodwind introduce I Never Went Away (Rodney-Bennett). The Night We Called It a Day (Denis-Adair) features piano and strings again, with subtle  support from the band.

Stars Fell on Alabama (Parish-Perkins) commences with a descending cascade (of stars?) on strings to morph into a full on big band groove with smart scatting from Claire Martin at the core of the piece.  Don’t Like Goodbyes (Arlen-Capote) reverts to type with piano, background strings and a bluesy contribution from the band.  You and the Night and the Music (Schwartz-Dietz) takes us out on a high note with an infectious Latin groove – I defy anyone not to at least chair-dance!

Songs and Stories is to be released on the Copenhagen based Stunt Records Label on June 19 and will be available as digital download (as reviewed), CD (Cat No. STUCD 20062) and LP (Cat No. STULP20061). 

I Get Along Without You Very Well and You and The Night and The Music have also already been released as singles. 
Hugh C

Claire Martin (vocals); Louis Dowdeswell Tom Walsh, George Hogg, James Davison (trumpets); Andy Wood, Callum Au, Chris Traves, Barry Clements (trombones); Sam Mayne, Simon Marsh, Paul Booth, Tom Richards, Martin Williams (saxes); Rob Barron (piano); Tommy Emmerton (guitar); Jeremy Brown, David Hughes (bass); Matt Skelton, Jamey Tate (drums); James Turner, Joey de Leon (perc);  Callum Au (arrangements) + Freddie Gavita (trumpet); Andy Martin (trombone); Nadim Teimoori (tenor sax); Ryan Quigley (trumpet).

Orchestra:
Mark Nightingale (conductor);
John Mills (and leader), Jeremy Isaac, Anna Harpham, Ben Buckton, Charis Jenson, Charles Mutter, Ciaran McCabe, Emma Parker, Everton Nelson, Helena Wood, Gemma Sharples, Katerina Nazarova, Kate Robinson, Lizzie Ball, Marianne Haynes, Maria Spengler, Matt Elston, Natalia Bonner, Nicole Wilson,Patrick Savage, Pete Graham, Ruth Rogers, Thom Gould, Tom Piggott Smith, Anna Cooper, Annie Beilby, Ben Newton,Lydia Lowndes-Northcott (violins).

Bruce White, Bryony Mycroft, Jonathan Barritt, Kay Stephen, Adrian Bradbury, Frank Schaeffer, James Barralet, Bozidar Vukotic (violas)

Magda Pietraszewska, Rowena Calvert, Richard Pryce, Laurence Ungless, Dom Worsley (celli)

Monica McCarron, Jane Marshall, Karen Jones (basses)

Howard McGill, Simon Marsh, Jessamy Holder, Peter Long, Katy Woolley, Corrine Bailey, Matt Gunner, Richard Watkins (woodwind)

Matt Lewis, Barry Clements (French horns); Andy Wood (trombone); Owen Slade (tuba); Laurence Ungless (bass); Matt Skelton (drums); James Turner (percussion); Rob Barron piano/celesta); Tommy Emmerton (guitar); Hugh Webb (harp).

Produced by Callum Au and Louis Dowdeswell. Recorded at Stadium Studios and Air Studios, London, in February/March 2019.

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