Claire Martin & Ray Gelato
@ the PizzaExpress Jazz Club & Love Supreme Jazz Festival
7 June 2017 - 3 July 2016
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Claire Martin biography
Linn recording artist and BBC Radio 3 presenter Claire Martin has
spent the last 29 years honing the craft of jazz singing. To worldwide
critical acclaim she has established herself as a tour de force
on the UK jazz scene gaining many awards, including winning the
British Jazz Awards seven times along the way.
Thanks to her jazz-loving parents, Martin grew up in a household
full of great music. After leaving stage school she became a professional
singer at 19 and two years later she realised her dream of singing
at Ronnie Scott’s legendary jazz club in Soho. Signed to the
prestigious Glasgow based Linn Records in 1990, Martin 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.
Martin has performed all over the world with her trio and, until
his death in 2012, worked extensively with the celebrated composer
and pianist Sir Richard Rodney Bennett in an intimate cabaret duo
setting both in England and in America where they played to sell-out
crowds at venues including the prestigious Algonquin Hotel in New
York City. Martin is also 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. She has co-presented BBC Radio 3’s flag ship jazz
program ‘Jazz Line Up’ since 2000 and has 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”.
Martin was thrilled to win both the 2009 and 2010 ‘Best
Vocalist’ category at the British Jazz Awards and toured extensively
throughout the UK, Scandinavia, Russia and China, appearing with
the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic and her world-class trio. 2011
proved to be an extraordinary year for Martin who made her debut
at the Lincoln Center in New York with Grammy nominated pianist
Bill Charlap and went on to perform for the third time at the famous
Algonquin Hotel for a three week residency with Sir Richard Rodney
Bennett. Their CD “Witchcraft” gained much critical
acclaim and was “unequivocally recommended” by Jazzwise
magazine. At the Queen’s Birthday Honours in June, Claire
Martin was delighted to be awarded an OBE for her Services to Jazz.
In August 2011 Martin recorded with legendary jazz pianist Kenny
Barron and an all-star American line up for her fifteenth album
for Linn records. “Too Much in Love to Care” received
5 star reviews and prompted the US magazine Jazz Journal to state
that she is “one of the finest jazz singers in the world today.”
This album went on to win the ‘Best New Recording’ award
at the 2012 British Jazz Awards. 2013 was spent touring the new
material in the UK and Europe and embarking on a new show The Two
of Us with conductor John Wilson, Joe Stilgoe, Mark McGann and the
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, celebrating the music of Paul McCartney
and John Lennon.
In 2014 Martin embarked on a new and unique musical adventure
with the Brighton based Montpellier Cello Quartet. With new arrangements
especially written for her by Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Mark Anthony
Turnage and Django Bates, this new chamber jazz ensemble toured
the UK promote a new album on Linn Records called “Time and
Place”. The album was warmly received and Clive Davis of The
Times cited Martin as “our finest jazz singer.”
2016 will be spent touring and promoting Martin’s brand new
project with the legendary singer/saxophonist Ray Gelato. With the
swinging Dave Newton trio the pair will release their Linn recording
“We’ve Got a World That Swings” in May and play
UK theatres and festivals throughout the coming year. Martin will
also be appearing this year with the singer pianist Joe Stilgoe,
the award-winning vocalist Liane Carroll and the nine-piece outfit
which features the Tippet Quartet called ‘Hollywood Romance.’
Ray Gelato biography
Ray Gelato is Britain’s main man when it comes to the cool
big band sound of all things swing. He’s the guy Paul McCartney
wanted playing the music at his wedding, the dude who Brian Adams
booked for his party, the chap who played for Her Majesty (twice).
Ray Gelato is a maestro of swing and jazz, an entertainer of the
first degree - and a jolly good chef to boot.
Always in demand with his band, Gelato also finds time to cook.
As adept in the kitchen as he is musically, several cookery themes
have found their way into repertoire.... “A Pizza You”
is always a firm favourite!
The son of an American GI, Ray Gelato’s first musical influence
was, in the tried and trusted manner, listening to his father playing
Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr. and 1950s rock ‘n’ roll records
around the house. A few years later Gelato began to visit rock ‘n’
roll and R&B clubs - it was here he discovered the sounds of
Louis Jordan and Louis Prima, among many other legendary entertainers,
and they became huge influences on his own music. In 1979, Gelato
took up playing the tenor sax. Studying hard at night school and
with private tutors, he developed a life-long love of jazz tenor
From 1980 to 1981, Gelato played in his first professional band,
‘The Dynamite Band,” influenced by Bill Haley-style
Rock ‘n’ Roll and giving Ray the chance to try out his
latest trick - playing the sax whilst lying on his back!
1982 saw the birth of The Chevalier Brothers with Maurice Chevalier.
They remained Gelato’s band until 1988. After winning a talent
contest at London’s Camden Palace (the first time Gelato had
featured as lead vocalist), the band became the “darlings
of the London club scene.” With the help of Gelato’s
long-time buddy and bass player, who became known as Clark Kent,
The Chevalier Brothers pioneered a revival of interest in the swinging
music of the ‘40s and ‘50s. They were a huge hit in
clubs across the UK, toured Europe and Japan, and were featured
on numerous TV shows. They also released three albums and several
singles and had the opportunity to work with such legendary performers
as Slim Gaillard. At the band’s peak they were playing around
200 gigs a year. The musicians included Ray Gelato (tenor sax, vocal),
Maurice Chevalier (guitar), Clark Kent (bass), John Piper (drums)
and Roger Beaujolais (vibes).
In 1988, Gelato appeared playing and singing in the hit British
film, Scandal. That same year, he formed Ray Gelato and the Giants
of Jive. This bigger, seven-piece band was the prototype of the
winning formula Gelato uses today. Their extensive list of gigs
included shows at Carnegie Hall, the Nice Jazz Festival, the Lugano
Jazz Festival and many tours throughout the U.K. and Europe. The
group also recorded three CDs before disbanding in 1994.
In 1994, Gelato found more film work, performing on the soundtrack
for the BBC drama, No Bananas. He also formed The Ray Gelato Giants,
with whom he still performs today. This highly successful combination
has played to critical acclaim wherever they have appeared, including
the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy (four times), the Montreal Jazz
Festival, San Sebastian Jazz Festival (Spain), and concerts in New
York City, Philadelphia, Tampa, Chicago, Washington D.C., and Los
The band has also enjoyed numerous Italian tours and television
appearances, including a spot on the Mauritzio Costanzo show. Closer
to home, Gelato and the boys have played Ronnie Scotts to rave reviews,
Pizza on the Park, and consistently packed the house at The 100
Club in London.
Gelato gained international notoriety in 1998 when he was featured
in a commercial for Levi’s Dockers - distributed worldwide
- performing the classic Renato Carosone song, “Tu Vuo’
Fa L’Americano,” made popular by Louis Prima. The song
is included on the band’s studio album, “The Men from
Uncle,” as well as their Live in Italy CD.
2001 saw an award-winning feature article on Gelato appear in
ATOMIC Magazine and later that year The Ray Gelato Giants opened
for Robbie Williams’ ‘Swing When You’re Winning’
concert at The Royal Albert Hall in London, before an appearance
at Bryan Adams’ birthday party at the singer’s personal
In 2002, The Ray Gelato Giants put on a fantastic show to a star-studded
audience at Paul McCartney’s wedding, performed for HM the
Queen at The Ritz Hotel in London, and also at the home of music-biz
boss Richard Branson.
2003 was the best yet for Ray Gelato and his Giants as they played
a 10 day residency at the Umbria Jazz Festival in Italy and continuing
to build a very healthy fan base in the US. Alongside the regular
shows at the 100 Club and Dean St Pizza Express, Gelato finished
off the year with an acclaimed three week residency at the legendary
Ronnie Scotts club.