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A series in which musicians give us insight into the background of one of their recordings

Scott Dunn, Claire Martin
& The Royal Philarmonic Orchestra
I Wish I'd Met You
from the album I Watch You Sleep

Claire Martin and Sir Richard Rodney Bennett

The album I Watch You Sleep, released at the end of March on the Stunt Records label, is Scott Dunn and Claire Martin's tribute to pianist and composer Sir Richard Rodney Bennett who passed through the Departure Lounge just over ten years ago.

Not only a concert pianist, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett was a respected jazz musician who appeared regularly with singers such as Cleo Laine, Marion Montgomery .... and Claire Martin. Scott Dunn is an American conductor and pianist who has worked around the world. He is currently associate conductor with the Los Angeles Philarmonic's Hollywood Bowl Orchestra.

Scott says: "Not only was Sir Richard Rodney Bennett an incredible pianist; one of Britain's leading concert composers and Pierre Boulez' first student, he was also a prolific film composer who contributed to some fifty movies and won Oscar nominations for Far From The Madding Crowd (1967), Nicholas and Alexandra (1971) and Murder On The Orient Express (1974). Alongside this, Bennett sustained a career as a jazz pianist, singer, songwriter and lyricist. It is to celebrate this jazz side of our friend, that Claire Martin, Gill Graham (producer) and I conceived this recording."


Claire Martin O.B.E. worked extensively with Sir Richard Rodney Bennett in a cabaret duo setting both in England and in the US - she was awarded the 2022 Parliamentary Jazz Award as the “Jazz Vocalist of the Year”. ‘Remembering Richard’ will be Claire performing with her trio of Rob Barron on piano, Jeremy Brown on bass and Mark Taylor on drums (who also play on this album) recreating the songs from the album and touring the UK throughout this year. In one interview, Claire said: "I met Sir Richard Rodney Bennett in Glasgow back in the 1990’s which seems a very long time ago!  He was doing a big concert up there and I was in the smaller room with my jazz trio.  We became friends that night and I was very lucky to work with him in a duo setting for the last ten years of his life.  He sadly passed away in 2012.  LINN records gave us the opportunity of recording three albums during our time together.  ‘When Lights Are Low’ is our first recording and we absolutely loved working together.  We recorded in New York and I stayed with Richard in his lovely apartment. He was a giant of music and my mentor.  I miss him very much."

For most of the album Scott Dunn's arrangements provide a lush background to Claire Martin's vocals, and I like the way she takes her time, expressing the lyrics clearly and sympathetically. Various people like different tracks - and you can hear most of them on YouTube -  Peter Quinn in Jazzwise likes Ryan Quigley's flugelhorn on Round About and the vibraphone introduction to Autumn In New York, and Nick Lea in Jazz Views likes Harold Arlen’s It’s Only A Paper Moon 'taken at a tempo that is rarely heard, nice and slow as was preferred by Bennett himself'. But  the track I have chosen here is  I Wish I'd Met You where there is just Scott Dunn (piano) and Rob Barron (bass) with Claire. The song, originally written by Franklin Underwood with Johnny Mandel and with great lyrics by Richard Rodney Bennett, was recorded as a duet by Sammy Davis Jr and Lena Horne around 1988 (here). I think this is a lovely song from the album, beautifully recorded and sung with a lfine arrangement - listen to how the bass and piano work together; here it is, I hope you enjoy it too.

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