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The Big Band Divas

Claire Martin and the BBC Big Band

The Bridgewater Hall, 27 July 2013

Claire Martin

As big band concerts go, this one was up there with the best.

One after another, Claire Martin performed songs made famous by the likes of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Judy Garland.  She had a smooth, easy delivery, not at all reverential yet not left-field either.  Martin simply, or not so simply, made the songs her own.  On one occasion, it was during the performance of Harold Arlen and Ira Gershwin’s ‘The Man that Got Away’, she broke your heart.

However, the band also got plenty of chances to storm out and there was a smorgasbord of stand-out solos on show.  Space was allowed for the flow between voice and music.  A danger with big band music is that sometimes the singer can be drowned out.  That was averted here, due mainly to the ingenious arrangements and the clarity of Martin’s diction and phrasing.

Survivors of the faux exit and encore saw (and heard) Sinatra added to the diva detail.  He was in good company.

Details of further events at the Manchester Jazz Festival can be found here.