Album Remarks & Appraisals:
In 1996 Claire Martin returned to New York to record Make This City Ours following enthusiastic reviews for her US debut. With a title song by the Brazilian troubadour Milton Nascimento, Make This City Ours was critically acclaimed, culminating in Claire being named 'Best Vocalist' at the 1997 BBC Jazz Awards. Classic songs from the Golden Age of the Great American Songbook sit easily aside contemporary songs, including a Claire Martin original, 'Empty Bed' and Suzanne Cloud's 'Collagen Lips', a wry glance at the cult of the body beautiful. Claire handles this imaginative choice of material with ease and conviction; the New York Observer described the album as 'a meticulous blend of brilliant material and flawless craftsmanship'. Claire is accompanied by an exceptional trans-Atlantic quintet: British pianist Gareth Williams and trumpeter Gerard Presencer play alongside American saxophonist Antonio Hart, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Gregory Hutchinson. Originally released in 1997 Make This City Ours has been re-issued as part of Linn's ECHO series which offers a second chance to enjoy the best of the label's award-winning catalogue. Known as 'The First Lady of British Jazz', Claire Martin has previously won Best Vocalist at the British Jazz Awards on seven separate occasions, an award she was nominated for most recently in 2015. Claire has been a driving force behind the UK jazz scene for over 25 years and in 2011 was appointed an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List for her services to music. In addition to her busy recording and touring schedule Claire co-presents BBC Radio 3's Jazz Line-up. Claire has released eighteen recordings with Linn, collaborating with musical luminaries including Martin Taylor, John Martyn, Stéphane Grappelli, Kenny Barron, Richard Rodney Bennett and Jim Mullen.
Personnel: Claire Martin (vocals); Antonio Hart (saxophone); Gerard Presencer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Gareth Williams (piano, background vocals); Peter Washington (bass); Gregory Hutchinson (drums).
Recorded at Clinton Studios, New York, New York on October 7 & 8, 1996. Includes liner notes by John Powers.
Personnel: Claire Martin (vocals); Antonio Hart (saxophone); Gerard Presencer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Gareth Williams (piano, background vocals); Gregory Hutchinson (drums).
Recording information: Clinton Studios, New York City, USA (10/07/1996-10/08/1996).
In 1996, Claire Martin was in same position as fellow British jazz singer Ian Shaw. Martin, then 29, had become England's top young female jazz vocalist (just as Shaw was its top young male jazz vocalist), but in American jazz circles, she was far from well-known. After recording all of her previous albums in England and using mostly British players, Martin made her U.S. recording debut when she ventured to Manhattan that year to record Make This City Ours. American players Antonio Hart (alto sax), Gerard Presencer, Peter Washington (bass) and Gregory Hutchinson (drums) were employed as sidemen along with Martin's U.K. pianist Gareth Williams, and they serve her well on both the standard "How Deep Is the Ocean" and less obvious choices like Gino Vannelli's "Gettin' High," Blossom Dearie's "Bye-Bye Country Boy" and Milton Nascimento's "Make This City Ours Tonight." One of the CD's most interesting surprises is "No Moon at All," which is taken at a fast pace instead of the comfortable tempo one expects from a song Julie London had defined in the 1950s. Make This City Ours proved that if Martin achieved her goal of becoming better known in the U.S., the attention would be well-deserved. ~ Alex Henderson