Claire Martin Quintet

DAVID WAKEFIELD Claire Martin's performance to a packed Norwich Playhouse confirmed her standing as simply one of the best singers, not only in Britain, but in the world.

DAVID WAKEFIELD

Singers like Claire Martin are shining lights in the modern popular music scene, weighed down, as it is, by so much dross. This lady, as ever, gave a quality performance to a packed Norwich Playhouse last night that confirmed her standing as simply one of the best, not only in Britain, but in the world.

She doesn't simply sing her lyrics; she lives them, and wrings out all the emotion that the writer intended. Working to some fine arrangements, and backed by a top-class quartet, she ran through a varied programme that contained the evergreens of Cole Porter and Leonard Bernstein, but also the more modern songs of Joni Mitchell, backed in fine style by Gareth Williams (piano, but also, unusually, doubling on guitar), Geoff Gascoyne (bass), Clark Tracey (drums) and Nigel Hitchcock on alto sax.

While it is difficult to point to a stand-out performance in such a quality evening, for me it had to be Cy Coleman's lovely ballad Killing Time, on which she was accompanied by solo piano. She also had the good grace to acknowledge Gareth Williams' performance by pointing out that accompanying a singer is an art form in itself.

Enough said, really. Ms Martin even had time to change her outfit at the interval, but what a shame those leather trousers were restricted to one half.

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