One thing a Jazz reviewer learns rather quickly - if his or her eyes are open and ears unclogged - is that there a great many talented players who haven't achieved the sort of recognition they deserve. The same is true of vocalists. A couple of years ago I happened across a wonderful singer - Hinda Hoffman - who is almost unknown even in her hometown, Chicago. And here's another one, New York-based Martha Lorin, who compares quite favorably with many of the better-known performers we've heard recently. The voice is clear and reliable, the delivery emphatic or silky as required, the sense of time exceptional. And she can write too (The Way You Love Is Real, Ancient Village, Let's Begin Again, the happy-go-lucky Nerves, all on The Time Is Now - the first two co-written with Frank Collette, the third with Dan Dowling). Although no recording dates are given, I suspect that this is the earlier of her two releases.
Only standards are included on the more recent one on which Ella Fitzgerald's longtime accompanist, Paul Smith, mans the keyboard in a two-person conclave. The first disc, whose opening number is a soulful duet with bassist John Clayton on the Ellington evergreen, also includes the standards Time After Time, Street of Dreams, Don't Misunderstand, Yesterdays and Jobim's Quiet Nights, on most of which Miss Lorin is backed by a quintet whose members include Lawrence, Miles, Flanagan, Pasqua and Alden. As a stickler for detail I wish she'd been more careful with the lyrics to Time After Time, but that's a minor grievance when everything else is done so well. The Tribute to Ella is somewhat more problematic, as the recording is so markedly unbalanced in the pianist's favor that it could well be titled "PAUL SMITH with Martha Lorin." Sound quality is crystal clear, but Miss Lorin's voice - adequate in most circumstances - is too often overpowered and eclipsed by Smith's assertive piano. Which is a shame, as she sings even more agreeably on Tribute than on the earlier disc. The phrasing is persuasive, the timing precise, the temperament warm and inviting. Blemishes aside, these are two captivating dates by one of the most accomplished singers you've never heard.
The Time Is Now
Martha Lorin, vocals; Howard Alden, guitar; John Clayton, Phil Flanagan, bass; Doug Lawrence, tenor sax; Butch Miles, drums; Alan Pasqua, Doug Roche, piano.
Do Nothin' Till You Hear from Me, Time After Time, The Way You Love Is Real, Street of Dreams, Ancient Village, Don't Misunderstand, Quiet Nights (Corcovado), Yesterdays, Let's Begin Again, Nerves
A Celebration of Ella
Martha Lorin, vocals; Paul Smith, piano.
Love for Sale, I Remember You, I Didn't Know What Time It Was, How Long Has This Been Going On, All of You, Love Walked In, Spring Is Here, Our Love Is Here to Stay, Day Dream, It Never Entered My Mind, One for My Baby (And One More for the Road), It's Only a Paper Moon, That Old Black Magic, How About Me, I'm Old Fashioned, Supper Time, I've Got the World on a String
Reprinted with permission from Marge Hofacre's Jazz News