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The BBC Big Band featuring Claire Martin (OBE) at the Queen’s Hall Edinburgh was a chance to not only catch the now far too rarely seen format of a 17 piece Big Band playing, but also one of the world’s best Jazz vocalists out in front paying musical homage to some of the great female vocalists of the classic Big Band eras.

The format of this show is a simple one - select some classic bands, arrangers and vocalists and bring their music to life with often special arrangements for the band and Claire Martin, and it is a format that works well, despite the fact that its very simplicity masks some very skilful arrangements and performances from everyone involved.  There was also a gentle warm feeling to this performance and BBC band leader Barry Forgie and Claire Martin are not only gifted performers, but hugely knowledgeable about the history of Jazz, Big Bands and the musicians and performers of the music that they both so clearly love.  Both however also have the gift of being able to share that information with an audience without it sounding like a school lecture.

The selection of music in this show is obviously a very personal one, and I suspect that for every song and vocalist chosen in this show dozens more just had to be omitted to bring us down to the final selection performed on-stage.  Here we have obvious names that just could not be omitted  - Ella Fitzgerald  and  Peggy Lee for example, but nice to hear that Judy Garland is included here in this round-up of strong females in a too often male dominated music genre.  Also nice to have Doris Day paid her tribute here too as a jazz singer as all too often her later film career obscures her rightful place here.  Claire Martin as a vocalist was obviously having so much fun here... read the rest of the article here