Jazz Singers (and Instrumentalists) on the Horizon

May 6, 2013 Updated: June 7, 2013

Claire Martin has been a fixture of the British jazz scene since her 1991 debut on Linn Records. Her latest album on the label, “Too Much in Love to Care,” maintains the high standard of her recordings. This is her first CD made up exclusively of love songs from the Great American Songbook. She recorded it in New York with a first-rate group of jazzmen: Peter Washington on drums and Kenny Washington on bass (who both play in Bill Charlap’s trio), the exemplary Kenny Barron on piano, with guest sax and flute player Steve Wilson. There are some jazz singers who take off on wild flights that show off their vast ranges. Martin is more in the tradition of vocalists like Carmen McRae and Rosemary Clooney, who imbue every word with the appropriate emotion. She even sings opening verses that less conscientious vocalists usually skip and when she wants to, the lady can scat and swing. Martin will make a rare appearance in town at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola on May 13 and 14.

From the opening track, Irving Berlin’s “Blue Skies,” Deborah Latz makes clear that even the most familiar tunes are fair game for radical reinterpretation. Thus, in her version, the “Blue Skies” sound bluer and more funky. She can also sing a lovely tune with little embellishment, as she does on some Portuguese language songs. Latz has a background in theater and, despite the freedom with which she approaches the material, she nevertheless pays attention to the lyrics. Her own originals are also likeable.  The title track is a playful piece somewhat reminiscent of “Straighten Up and Fly Right.” She will hold a CD release party at Somethin’ Jazz Club on Saturday, May 18 with Jon Davis on piano, Ray Parker on bass and Willard Dyson on drums. 

Cécile McLorin Salvant (who was born and raised in Miami, Florida of a French mother and a Haitian father) has been recognized as a rising star since she won the Thelonious Monk competition in 2010. She has a deluxe instrument with a tremendous range and, in addition to jazz, has studied classical piano and baroque vocal music. Judging by her new CD “WomanChild,” she also has a deep knowledge of jazz history with an ability to step into a variety of styles, from early blues and pop (St. Louis Gal and I Ain’t Got Nobody) to swing (What a Little Moonlight Can Do and Jitterbug Waltz), French songs (Le Front Caché Sur Tes Genoux) and even folk (John Henry). My only reservation is that sometimes her chameleon-like ability to reproduce the sounds of her predecessors (Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, etc.) suggests that she is still developing her own style. In any event, she is one of the most striking new singers to appear in recent years. On May 12th, she will perform at Abyssinian Baptist Church with Aaron Diehl, her superb pianist on the CD. Salvant will return to the city on June 25 for a CD release party at 54 Below with Diehl as well as Paul Sikivie on bass and Rodney Green on drums.

The pianist-composer Craig Taborn has a splendid new trio album, “Chant,” with drummer Gerald Cleaver and bassist Thomas Morgan). The group is slated to appear at Roulette on May 6th. Another ECM recording artist, alto saxophonist-composer Tim Berne will be in residence at The Stone from May 7-12 with various groups, including Craig Taborn on May 10th.

The Le Boeuf Brothers are identical twins, or perhaps not completely identical since Remy plays the saxophone and Pascal is a pianist, though both compose. They have been active lately with the release of their “Remixed” album and Pascal’s trio album (without his brother) “Triangle.” Pascal Le Boeuf will be celebrating his new CD at The Jazz Gallery on May 9, with Linda Oh and Justin Brown. The Le Boeuf Brothers are fully cognizant of the jazz tradition but they add their own interest in electronic production based music. The mighty saxophonist Noah Preminger will appear at Jazz Standard on May 21 and 22 to celebrate the release of his new CD, “Haymaker.” He will be backed up by Ben Monder on guitar, Matt Pavolka on bass, Colin Stranahan on drums with a guest appearance by vocalist Alison Wedding.