Album title: Witchcraft
Performers: Claire Martin & Richard Rodney Bennett
Label: Linn Records - SACD AKD359 (also available as FLAC, WMA and MP3 downloads)
Playing time: 42:51
Recorded: London, December 2009

Will you take sugar with your honey? Female jazz vocalists as far as I am concerned occupy two categories these days - those with something to say who put a good dose of their soul into every word; and those who play their smokey voices to nausea, usually surrounded with sweeter than Aspartame musicians trying to make up for insipid lyrics. You know the kind. You hear them all the time at audio shows, something to do with 60-year old men trying to decide what size speakers they need to make them feel alive for a while longer.

In the first group I’d put Gene Manly, Carol Kidd or Barb Jungr. In the second I must place this Martin/Bennett release (insipid lyrics aside, the songs by Cy Coleman actually deserve better). You’ll find plenty of highly favorable critics for this disc and I imagine it would deserve an award if you’re into smokey and sweet caricatures of Jazz.

I am not. Jazz is free spirit music, not layers of sweetness one on top of the other.

If you are looking for a new reference to annoy the heck out of music lovers at audio shows, Linn’s always spectacular recording work makes this disc an unavoidable corner stone. If you want music, get Barb Jungr’s inspired rendition of Bob Dylan’s classics instead. It sounds nothing like Witchcraft—what a misnomer unless it's a reference to a sleeping spell—but has a depth Martin and Bennett don’t approach even remotely.