Scott Dunn with Claire Martin: I Watch You Sleep

Richard Rodney Bennett champion Claire Martin sings the late composer's work with jazz quartet and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

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Having previously done a broadcast tribute to Richard Rodney Bennett with the BBC Concert Orchestra, BBC Singers and Claire Martin, the American conductor, pianist and arranger Dunn has now cleverly integrated the voice of Martin, a long-time admirer of Bennett’s songs, with the complete Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and Rob Barron’s piano and quartet.

All the selections were either written by Bennett or are associated with him. I Watch You Sleep is a richly romantic ballad which Martin sings sensuously with the orchestra in full flood behind her. Autumn In New York and It’s Only A Paper Moon are sung by Claire with the jazz quartet featured and fully integrated with the orchestra. My Ship is arranged for cello quartet and jazz bass. Round About, one of Bennett’s favourites, gets a smooth vocal, string section and Ryan Quigley’s flugelhorn treatment.

There are also tracks with the full RPO, voice and jazz bass. The jazz quartet sounds smooth and polished, with piano and often the bass of Jeremy Brown prominent. Skelton is restrained and effective often using just brushes. Vibes are well featured on some selections, by members of the RPO percussion section.

This is the sort of album that can grow on you with repeated listening. Dunn has provided sleek, full-blooded arrangements mixing jazz and classical orchestra over which Martin gives a first-class vocal performance.

The sonic brilliance of the LP is impressive, but enthusiasts might like to go for the CD which offers six additional tracks, most of them featuring the jazz quartet up front. Either format is a good buy for the quality of the music and the recording.

Discography
I Watch You Sleep; Autumn In New York; It’s Only A Paper Moon; For Ev’ry Man There’s A Woman/ It Was Written In The Stars; My Ship; Round About; I Never Went Away; Let’s Go And Live In The Country; Goodbye For Now (39.45) Additional CD tracks: I’ll Always Leave The Door A Little Open; I Wish I’d Met You; Don’t Play Games With Love; Early To Bed; I Wonder What Became Of Me; It Was Written In The Stars (CD total: 61.12)
Claire Martin (v); Rob Barron (p); Jeremy Brown (b); Matt Skelton (d); Ryan Quigley (flh); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, cond. Scott Dunn. London, 24 & 25 August 2022.
Stunt LP 23011 / CD 23012