Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

332

Ian Shaw and Claire Martin at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2009

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Ian Shaw and Claire Martin
Norfolk and Norwich Festival
Norwich Playhouse

Norwich UK

May 14, 2009

The 2009 Norfolk and Norwich Festival's program of jazz concerts has brought some of the best contemporary jazz musicians to Norwich. On May 14 it was the singers who had a chance to shine. Individually, Ian Shaw and Claire Martin are two of the finest jazz vocalists working today; as a duo they could well be as entertaining as any jazz performers around.



Shaw and Martin are both extremely talented singers: Martin's microphone technique is exceptional, while Shaw is a skilled pianist as well as a savvy vocalist. The duo performed with only Shaw's piano for accompaniment, and at no time during their set did it seem that any more instruments were needed. In fact, their a capella rendition of "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" suggested that they could have dispensed with the piano and carried the entire performance just on the quality of their singing.

Between songs Shaw and Martin are a great comedy double act, telling stories and jokes and discussing the finer points of dieting and discount shopping. But once the music starts they have the ability to move an audience to tears—not just of laughter but of sadness through a judiciously chosen collection of songs with inspired arrangements. The most surprising occurred during Joni Mitchell's "Big Yellow Taxi," when Shaw, after crying out "guitar solo," treated the audience to eight bars of silence as a guitarist conspicuously failed to appear.

One of the greatest joys of the evening was the selection of songs. The classic jazz songbook was in evidence, with songs such as "Makin' Whoopee" and "Darn That Dream," but most of the set featured compositions from rock, pop and soul songwriters such as Phoebe Snow, Donald Fagen and Lou Reed. Reed's "Walk On The Wild Side" saw the audience enthusiastically joining in on the "Doo doo doo" chorus as instructed by the singers—not typical jazz audience behavior in Britain.



The most memorable songs were the love songs, and here again Shaw and Martin have exceptional taste in choosing beautiful and affecting songs that are not part of the jazz canon. Two of the night's songs in particular bore this out. The first was Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)": a major pop hit in the early 1970s which, though performed by Woody Herman's big band, in Britain is remembered more for O'Sullivan's trademark 1930s grocery delivery boy style of dress than for its quality as a song. Shaw's arrangement and performance brought home the sadness of the lyrics, with their tale of a suicidal jilted bridegroom, while at the same time making it sound as if it was always meant to be a jazz ballad.

The second song, Tom Waits' "Take It With Me," was introduced by Shaw as the best love song ever written. By the time the last notes echoed around the theater, it was hard to argue with his extravagant claim: this was a masterful performance, faithful to the original song and also reflecting the singers' own take on lyrics and melody. Claire Martin took the lead vocal on Sweets Edison-Jon Hendricks' "Centerpiece" as the evening drew to a close: two great voices, one piano for company, and a distinctive and lovely set of songs had come together in an exceptional night's entertainment.


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Ostrava Days 2017 Live Reviews Ostrava Days 2017
by Martin Longley
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Diane Schuur at Birdland Live Reviews Diane Schuur at Birdland
by Tyran Grillo
Published: November 20, 2017
Read Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront Live Reviews Pat Metheny at Belfast Waterfront
by Ian Patterson
Published: November 19, 2017
Read Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor Live Reviews Crosscurrents at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: November 15, 2017
Read "Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017" Live Reviews Festival International de Jazz de Montreal 2017
by John Kelman
Published: July 7, 2017
Read "Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ" Live Reviews Hermeto Pascoal at SFJAZZ
by Harry S. Pariser
Published: April 21, 2017
Read "Garana Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Garana Jazz Festival 2017
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: July 20, 2017
Read "Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center" Live Reviews Fred Hersch's Leaves Of Grass at Jazz at Lincoln Center
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 26, 2017
Read "Bonerama at the Iridium" Live Reviews Bonerama at the Iridium
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: August 5, 2017

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Please support out sponsor