Claire Martin, OBE
Linn recording artist Claire Martin has to worldwide critical acclaim established herself as a tour de force on the UK jazz scene gaining many awards, including winning the British Jazz Awards eight times during her career which spans over three decades. In 2018 she was the proud recipient of the BASCA Gold Badge Award for her contribution to jazz.
Claire became a professional singer at 19 and two years later realised her dream of singing at Ronnie Scott’s legendary jazz club in London Soho. Signed to the prestigious Glasgow based Linn Records in 1990, Claire has since released 18 CDs with the label, collaborating with musical luminaries including Martin Taylor, John Martyn, Stephane Grappelli, Kenny Barron, Richard Rodney Bennett and Jim Mullen on many of these recordings.
Claire has performed worldwide with her trio and, until his death in 2012, worked extensively with the celebrated composer and pianist Sir Richard Rodney Bennett in a cabaret duo setting both in England and the US where they played to sell-out houses at venues including the prestigious Algonquin Hotel in New York City.
Claire appears as a featured soloist with the Halle Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, the RTE Concert Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, the BBC Big Band and the BBC Concert Orchestra. Claire co-presented BBC Radio 3’s flagship jazz program ‘Jazz Line Up’ from 2000 to 2017 and interviewed many of her musical heroes such as Pat Metheny and the late Michael Brecker. Her 2009 CD A Modern Art prompted Jazz Times USA to claim: “She ranks among the four or five finest female jazz vocalists on the planet”.
At the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June 2011 Claire was delighted to be awarded an OBE for her Services to Jazz.
Claire was thrilled to win both the 2009 and 2010 ‘Best Vocalist’ category at the British Jazz Awards and toured extensively throughout the UK, Scandinavia, Russia and China, appearing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and her world-class trio. 2011 proved to be an extraordinary year for Claire who made her debut at Lincoln Center in New York with Grammy® nominated pianist Bill Charlap and went on to perform for the third time at the famous Algonquin Hotel for a three week residency with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett. Their CD Witchcraft gained much critical acclaim and was “unequivocally recommended” by Jazzwise magazine. At the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June, Claire was delighted to be awarded an OBE for her Services to Jazz.
In August 2011 Claire recorded with legendary jazz pianist Kenny Barron and an all-star American line up for her fifteenth album for Linn Records. Too Much in Love to Care received 5-star reviews and prompted the US magazine Jazz Journal to state that she is “one of the finest jazz singers in the world today”. This album went on to win the ‘Best New Recording’ award at the 2012 British Jazz Awards. 2013 was spent touring the new material in the UK and Europe and embarking on a new show The Two of Us with conductor John Wilson, Joe Stilgoe, Mark McGann and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, celebrating the music of Paul McCartney and John Lennon.
In 2014 Claire embarked on a new and unique musical adventure with the Brighton based Montpellier Cello Quartet. With new arrangements especially written for her by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Mark Anthony Turnage and Django Bates, this new chamber jazz ensemble toured the UK promote a new album on Linn Records called Time and Place. The album was warmly received and Clive Davis of The Times cited Claire as “our finest jazz singer”.
2017/8 was spent touring and promoting her project with the ever-popular entertainer, saxophonist Ray Gelato as well as appearing with the singer/songwriter Joe Stilgoe and continuing her long-standing celebrated duo performances with singer/pianist Ian Shaw. Claire also joined forces with the brilliant Tippett Quartetin a 10 piece setting called ‘Hollywood Romance’ which played to sell-out audiences at Ronnie Scott’s.
2019 was a bumper year for new releases and ‘Bumpin’ (Stunt Records) which celebrated the music of Wes Montgomery and featured the brilliant guitarist Jim Mullen, and ‘Believin’ It’ which was a trio album with Claire’s all Swedish group were both met with critical acclaim and Jazz Views wrote that Claire Martin was ‘the real deal’. ‘Believin’ It’ won the Jazzwise award of ‘Album of the Year’.
In the same year Claire joined forces with young up-and-coming arranger Callum Au to record with a full 82 piece orchestra and big band on an album called ‘Songs and Stories’ (Stunt Records). This recording won the 2020 Parliamentary Jazz Award for ‘Best Album’ award and the arrangements were recently recorded for BBC Radio 2’s ‘Sunday Night is Music Night’ with the BBC Concert Orchestra which will be broadcast in January 2022.
Claire is currently working on her next album project which will be a collaboration with the American conductor and pianist Scott Dunn and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. They will be paying homage to their dear friend Sir Richard Rodney Bennett by recording his songs alongside songs that Richard loved to perform. Scott Dunn has written brand new arrangements for this project. They will record at Abbey Road Studios in late Spring 2022 and the album will be released by the end of the year. It is set to feature a stunning duet with Dame Sarah Connolly on one of Richard’s most requested songs.
Claire Martin lives in Brighton.