Double Standards with Liane Carroll and Claire Martin continues at the Crazy Coqs, London until 9 April.
Star rating: five stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Acclaimed and multi-award winning jazz singers Claire Martin and Liane Carroll join forces for the first time in this intimate night of song and musical mischief.
Martin, a Crazy Coqs favourite, is well known through her recordings and work as a BBC Radio 3 presenter. Her successful career spans almost 30 years during which she has earned worldwide critical acclaim. Amongst her many achievements is winning the British Jazz Awards seven times.
Carroll, described as ‘one of the UK’s greatest musical treasures’, has a soulful and emotive style. She is capable of bringing an audience to tears with her ability to inhabit a lyric, as well as share joy, thanks to her breathtaking vocal virtuosity.
The two artists have known each other for many years, but this is the first time they have appeared as a double act – a decision of their own choosing. And don’t they blend well.
Their debut performance could be likened to an evening of musical fireworks that excites and delights a packed house. Their voices rocket skywards, crackle and smoulder.
The singers relish the chance of working together and their bubbling excitement soon transfers to the audience.
Both readily confess that they are selfish in their choice of material – the tracks are songs that they love or have a history with. New original material mingles with many numbers from the Great American Songbook along with some lesser-known classics – all stylishly re-worked.
Their gentle opening ‘What the World Needs Now is Love’ soon segues into an upbeat version of ‘It’s All Right With Me’, complete with scat riffs.
A wild ‘Honeysuckle Rose’ and a freewheeling version of ‘Old Devil Moon’ are contrasted with Joe Stilgoe’s wistful ‘Seaside’ and ‘It’s Easy to Remember’. The latter being a number that Martin had sung with the late Richard Rodney Bennett. Not surprisingly, her delivery is highly charged with emotion.
Two other departed artists receive a tribute – a pair of Dusty Springfield’s classics are given excellent treatment and Marion Montgomery is recalled by Martin with a song that she was introduced to by the lady herself – ‘The People That You Never Get to Love’.
Martin is the artist that I have had the pleasure of hearing numerous times. Her voice and interpretations are always rich and powerful. On this occasion she seemed to have raised her game even higher. It’s like attending a masterclass of timing and phrasing.
Carroll, to my shame, is an artist that was unknown to me, but her contributions – both as vocalist and musician – will ensure that I look out for her in the future.
She brings the house down with two powerhouse numbers. ‘You Don’t Know Me’ is a knockout, as is an explosive version of ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’. Her piano playing not only provides sensitive accompaniment, but it thrills when she is let loose in her solo moments.
For the penultimate number the ladies choose ‘I Got Rhythm’ and it does not take long before it transforms into a duelling battle as they try to out scat their way through the number.
A truly great evening that ought not to be missed.