For Your Consideration
Best Jazz Vocal Album: ‘Songs And Stories’ (Callum Au & Claire Martin)
Two leading lights of the British jazz scene: composer, arranger and trombonist, Callum Au, and internationally admired singer, Claire Martin, join forces for a new album, ‘Songs and Stories’ on the Copenhagen-based Stunt label. The album, featuring a total of 82 exceptional musicians from the UK, Europe and the USA, is a stunningly arranged selection of jazz standards and American Songbook classics. This thoroughly modern take on the classic big band & orchestra puts Claire Martin’s exquisite vocal performance front and centre.
A serious contender for jazz album of the year”
This is Claire Martin’s first big band or large orchestral recording – and she is thrilled to be working with Callum Au, who she regards as a “major talent”, with many great successes ahead of him. The album features a superb line-up of soloists and lead musicians including Ryan Quigley, Andy Wood, Freddie Gavita, Nadim Teimoori, Sam Mayne, Louis Dowdeswell, Andy Martin, Matt Skelton and John Mills – plus conductor Mark Nightingale.
…the remarkable young arranger Callum Au is already a master [of the] mysterious art of orchestration and arranging.”
With this album, [Claire Martin] invokes memories of Barbra Streisand’s and Frank Sinatra’s golden eras.”
Detlef A. Ott
[Claire Martin is] the finest jazz singer of her generation”
The Sunday Times
Callum Au is a British composer, arranger, orchestrator, and trombonist. He writes music across a wide range of genres, with a particular passion for big band and large jazz ensemble music. He is highly regarded for his stylistic awareness and versatility, and has worked with some of the world’s biggest artists.
Over the past ten years, Callum has established himself as one of the busiest arrangers and orchestrators in the country. He has had the privilege of writing music for many international artists, including Quincy Jones, Jamie Cullum, Randy Brecker, and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. In 2019, he was commissioned to arrange the big band numbers in the Hollywood movie adaptation of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s ‘Cats’. A fascination with the classic arrangements of Billy May and Nelson Riddle has seen him transcribe several hundred classic big band vocal charts of the ‘50s and ‘60s. These charts have been sung by many of the world’s finest jazz singers, including Matthew Ford, Clare Teal and Dee Dee Bridgewater.
Born in London to a Scottish mother and a Chinese father, Callum spent most of his formative years in Blackpool before moving to London, where he now lives and works.
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.
Her 2019 recording Believin’ It will be with her brand new all-Swedish trio and her twentieth album release. The quartet will tour throughout the UK during May and June.
Arrangements Callum Au
Vocals Claire Martin
Trumpets Louis Dowdeswell, Tom Walsh, George Hogg, James Davison
Trombones Andy Wood, Callum Au, Chris Traves, Barry Clements
Saxophones Sam Mayne, Simon Marsh, Paul Booth, Tom Richards, Martin Williams
Piano Rob Barron
Guitar Tommy Emmerton
Bass Jeremy Brown
Drums Matt Skelton
Percussion James Turner
Conductor Mark Nightingale
Violins John Mills* (leader)
Jeremy Isaac*, Anna Harpham, Ben Buckton, Charis Jenson, Charles Mutter, Ciaran McCabe, Emma Parker, Everton Nelson, Helena Wood, Gemma Sharples, Katerina Nazarova, Kate Robinson, Lizzie Ball, Marianne Haynes, Maria Spengler, Matt Elston, Natalia Bonner, Nicole Wilson, Patrick Savage, Pete Graham, Ruth Rogers, Thom Gould, Tom Piggott Smith
Violas Lydia Lowndes-Northcott*, Anna Cooper, Annie Beilby, Ben Newton, Bruce White, Bryony Mycroft, Jonathan Barritt, Kay Stephen, Celli Bozidar Vukotic*, Adrian Bradbury, Frank Schaeffer, James Barralet, Magda Pietraszewska, Rowena Calvert
Basses Dom Worsley*, Richard Pryce, Laurence Ungless
Woodwind Karen Jones*, Monica McCarron, Jane Marshall, Howard McGill, Simon Marsh, Jessamy Holder, Peter Long, Horns Richard Watkins*, Katy Woolley, Corrine Bailey, Matt Gunner
Trombones Andy Wood*, Matt Lewis, Barry Clements
Tuba Owen Slade
Rhythm Bass Laurence Ungless
Drums Matt Skelton
Percussion James Turner
Piano & Celesta Rob Barron
Guitar Tommy Emmerton
Harp Hugh Webb
* = principal
Recording engineer Geoff Foster
Assistant engineer Laurence Anslow
Mix engineer Louis Dowdeswell
Mastering engineer Gavin Lurssen
Music preparation by Phil Knights
Photography by Kenny McCracken
Styling by Bec Salmon
Graphic Design by Nadja von Massow / nad.works
Produced by Callum Au and Louis Dowdeswell
Big Band recorded at Stadium Studios, Wembley, London, UK, 11–13 February 2019
Orchestra recorded at Lyndhurst Hall, Air Studios, London, UK, 20 March 2019
Mastered at Lurssen Mastering, Burbank CA, USA, 15 January 2020
These are the songs and stories you are unlikely to ever tire of listening to. Callum Au, with his bright, scintillating arrangements has achieved the near impossible.”
You might think that to compare Au with Mandel is unreasonable. If so, just sit back and let the music envelop you… This album is a strong contender for my personal album of the year.”