IN LOVE AGAIN
Not every singer can easily achieve intimacy; Gail Marten has thoroughly mastered the art . . . and her latest album is a joy to behold. That is mainly due to her knowing approach to ballads. I don't mean that corny old line about being able to tell a story. Gail's strength lies in her deep understanding of the emotions that well-crafted lyrics convey, and above all, her impeccable taste. Her choice of material…reveals her knowledge of and appreciation for the Great American Songbook.
Prime examples are her interpretations of "Skylark," "Alfie," "Never Let Me Go" and "Cry Me A River." What they all have in common is they tend to separate the women from the girls, the professionals from the ingénues, the cabaret hip from the jazz pretenders. Each of those tracks is given a heart-wrenching reading. When Willis alone backs her, Ms Marten is able to plumb the depths and soul of the lyrics in the ideal dramatic atmosphere: rubato, as they do in "If He Walked Into My Life"—to this pair of ears, the high point of the CD. That in no way infers that Willis' rhythm mates—bassist Herman Burney and drummer Eric Kennedy—fail to carry their weight. Au contraire, Burney's pedal points on the fifth add just the right touch to "Alice In Wonderland," a 3/4 bouyancy that Kennedy's subtle brush work enchances. Both "Where Do You Start?" and "You Must Believe in Spring" reveal Gail's ability to stretch her high range as well as cope with sudden modulations They also show her preference for the literate eloquence of the Bergmans, whether it be lavished over the changes of Johnny Mandel or Michel Legrand.
"Hello Young Lovers" (one of Willis' cleverest charts)—a juxtaposition of bright bossa and uplifting jazz pulse in the release—proves that Gail can swing, when she wishes to. Another talent she can call on whenever the Muse allows, is her lyric writing. Her witty "Reinventing Me," a collaboration with Clem Ehoff, includes her plan to "reconstruct my derriere," among many other revisions. Her self-improvement project breaks me up every time I hear it. The album is dedicated to Shirley Horn, who put Marten hip to Larry Willis around six years ago.
A honey-voiced veteran of many a hotel lounge, Columbia’s Gail Marten has been plying the Great American Songbook in Baltimore/D.C. outposts of traditional live jazz for three decades. Her latest recording, the self-released In Love Again, is as elegant and refreshing as an expertly made Negroni. Working for the first time with pianist/arranger Larry Willis, Marten takes a leisurely stroll through fourteen songs of love, including the self-penned “Reinventing Me,” a bouncy ode to romantic self-improvement, surgical and otherwise. But the dominant motif here is rueful mediations on loves lost and lessons learned, delivered in Marten’s assured, smoky voice and ornamented tastefully with Willis’s piano work. Such chestnuts as Hoagy Carmichael/Johnny Mercer’s “Skylark” or the Hal David/Burt Bacharach tune “Alfie” receive spare, affecting readings; this may be familiar territory, but Marten inhabits the material with a haunting, lived-in quality.
“Never let me go,” Gail Marten sings in the opening track of her album, In Love Again. But she’s not just singing, she’s pleading. And you’re not just listening idly; you’re transfixed and fascinated by the voice in your ears, a voice of maturity and depth, smooth and airy, the voice of someone who knows a lot more than you do. The songs are ripe with emotion, and not just from Marten herself. For instance, “Never Let Me Go” and “If He Walked Into My Life” feature very passionate solos from pianist Larry Willis, who is able to transfer Marten’s heartache at the thought of losing her love into his own fingers, proving that he possesses the technical skill and heart to be a true jazz player.
Marten proves her phenomenal talent in songs penned by others, but she also shines in “Reinventing Me,” a song that she wrote that offers a kind of tongue-in-cheek perspective of a woman who reinvents herself for a man, from slimming down and dying her hair to getting Botox. It’s a fun, upbeat song in which she promises that all the collagen and hair dye can’t prevent her from being herself, with lyrics that prove this singer is both wise and clever on top of her passion and raw talent.
Above all, Gail Marten believes in love, as she sings in “Alfie.” “Without true love, we just exist,” she croons to the title character. And even the most skeptical of listeners will want to believe her, as it is obvious Marten has loved and lost, but still she is okay. Well, more than okay. She’s strong, and she’s on top, which resonates on her incredible album. With such a strong voice, if Gail Marten tells me to believe in love, I will definitely believe in love.
Vocalist Gail Marten, a native of Philadelphia, who has performed in Baltimore and the mid-Atlantic area for nearly three decades, sings with a clear voice in a simple style largely unadorned with theatrics, and the results are quite becoming. In her recent recording, Marten adds an extra element of expression to a program of music, which in her words depicts the uncertainty, the falling in and the falling out, the elation and the despair of the romantic experience. An award-winning writer and lyricist, Marten has a special affinity for the lyrics of Alan and Marilyn Bergman, here conveying with tenderness the poetic “Like a Lover” and two other selections co-written by the Bergmans. Jerry Herman’s “If He Walked Into My Life” also serves as an evocative vehicle for Marten, as do “Alfie” and “Cry Me A River.” “Never Let Me Go” and most of the other selections reveal Marten’s cooler side, one reminiscent of Chris Conner. Adding interest to the presentation are the simple, yet highly musical arrangements of pianist [Larry] Willis, who on “Alice in Wonderland” places crystalline chords above a single note bass line to beautifully introduce Marten’s straightforward vocals. Also prominently featured on solos throughout, Willis’s particularly lyrical moment in his solo on ”Where Do You Start?” is characteristic of the musical brilliance this preeminent jazz musician brings to the set.
As a broadcaster, I am assailed by CDs from female singers who are "jazz wannabees". GAIL MARTEN'S CD IN LOVE AGAIN has RESTORED MY FAITH. This carefully crafted and well thought out CD should be on everyone 's playlist. Gail's voice has never sounded better, her phrasing is impeccable, the choice and tracking of the tunes tell a story of a life lived. Her vocals stir your feelings and reach into your heart, but give you food for thought about your own romances. Oh yes, and Larry Willis has moved into my short list of favourite pianists.
Gail Marten’s new album In Love Again . . . calls to mind in a number of songs that are mostly, in Gail’s words, about “evincing the mystery of the human heart with its inexplicable range of romantic impulse, from fascination to lust to obsession. Throughout the collection, the uncertainty, the falling in and the falling out, the elation and the despair are expressed. In Love Again opens with the erotic desperation of "Never Let Me Go" and (after an intoxicating ride through songs expressing both joy and despair) closes with "Hello, Young Lovers," a salute from a retired player in the game and games of romantic love. This is a courageous album in its self-exposure, its willingness to express emotional vulnerability. Musically the album offers a deeply pleasurable listening experience. Larry Willis, Herman Burney, and Eric Kennedy provide perfect accompaniment; Willis's piano work is particularly a joy to hear. But the album is primarily Gail’s. Her voice is smooth, mellifluous, and expressive, with a smoky quality that lends poignancy to the lyrics.
This album amply demonstrates why Gail, an award-winning songwriter, is so well regarded . . . Gail’s tastefulness and sophistication make [these songs] the mature expression of a heart willing to love and lose rather than never to love at all.
IS IT LOVE?
Jazz vocalist, lyricist, composer, a multi-label honor few have in their repertoire. Is It Love?, a triumph in lyrics and arrangement, all original from mainstream to Latin. Adorned with accolades as recent as “Is It Love” gathering up first in the 2005 UK Songwriting contest, Ms. Marten has a unique way about bringing balance to her craft. This can be felt through the way she performs and composes her music. As you filter through the jewel box of Is It Love? you experience the eclectic selections and acute sounds that makeup this pleasing production. Sound manipulation and execution is important to the bondage of moods the music dictates throughout Ms Marten’s effort. Ms. Marten has this latinesque temper piped in throughout this journey of love. Many of the cuts seem to display different attributes and sides to this at time heartless feeling called love. With her exotic sensual tones Ms. Marten can get across what most feel but rarely admit. “Dream With Me” is such an example of pure unfiltered passion-coated lyrics. Her vocals, with eloquence, reach out to that lover inside of all of us. The piano piece just adds that perfect flair of romance to this soft-spoken musical ballad. For fans of jazz after hours or amid a hidden café with that other set of eyes adjoining yours, this is the music score. Ms. Marten and Ehoff have produced the quintessential song for those times that one always hopes to dream about. A fine addition to your casual collection and for those special moments where jazz is the only fit!
IS IT LOVE? YOU BETCHA IT IS! They're back! And with more passion, subtlety and warmth. Is it love? You betcha it is! Gail Marten and Clem Ehoff interweave their respective talents – her way with lyrics, and his way with musical sounds – differently, yet complementary. I had to listen to these musical offerings right through. I could not stop mid-CD. There is an integral connection between each song, and among Marten, Ehoff, Knepp and Alfonso Rondon. I know, I know, you're thinking, "you're over the top!" But after you listen to and embrace this melodious suite of music, you will agree, "this is their best yet." If you have ever been in love, you will identify with the lyrics to the title song. The uncertainty of love – "Are you mine, really mine, Or someone else's baby?" The passionate emotional liability – Am I high, Am I low? Should I stay, Should I go? The adventure of it all – Should I care? Do I dare? By the time the song was over, I was in the throes of loving memories. And before you can catch your breath, you're plunged into "Who Would Know?" Who would know/Who would care/Love and war/All is fair." Give me a break, I'm outta breath and thinking room! "Just Before Dawn," reminds us of beauty of "l'alba," the dawn of which poets write. "Moon will soon surrender/To the early morning splendor/I've tossed and turned another sleepless night/ Wondering what went wrong and who was right." Not over the top, but right on! Each and every lyric, in each and every song, every turn of a lyric, is connected one to the other, and lays out a suite of epos – an epic theme – love! This group of emotional love anthems will not necessarily help you through a love affair, but will make it easier to understand what is going on. Thank-you for the occasional respite from charged words—Ehoff's piano, while omnipresent, does not overly dominate, and provides the "ride" for what we are taking in of the organic whole. A keyboard musical lover in love. As Gail, Clem and the trio swan through each and every aspect of the love experience, they ultimately arrive at the apex—Close your eyes and dream a dream/with me/At the end of day / Catch a cloud and float above the earth/Sail the Milky Way. Not satisfied with winging us along with all of this lyrical and musical beauty, we all become immersed in: Skies ablaze with setting sun / Farewell to yesterday / Twilight beckons to the moon / Purple shadows paint the way. Is It Love? An opus of endearing proportions; a CD for morning, noon and night in Nirvana.
Anthony Agostinelli, The Newsletter
Guests stepped from the elevator into Eubie Live!, the deep blue concert space on the fourth floor of the Eubie Blake Jazz Institute. Candles flickered on pale blue tablecloths as the attendees were seated. Gail Marten and a stellar rhythm section assembled for the official debut of her newest musical release, In Love Again. World renowned pianist Larry Willis, virtuoso bassist Steve Novosel and first-rate drummer Robert Shahid came together for a magnificent collaboration.
Willis’s masterful accompaniment provided Marten the setting in which to shine—and shine she did. She was positively radiant. Her joy was palpable, and this listener/observer had a sense of almost being able to see into her soul as she interpreted her songs. Marten’s phrasing was impeccable and she was in perfect voice.
In Love Again, a compilation of love songs, required not a lot of sound, but instead—sound in all the right places. This rhythm section provided exactly that—sound in all the right places. When Marten and Willis performed “If He Walked Into My Life” as a duo, you could hear a pin drop as the audience reflected on the words of this telling piece about love and loss. Magnificent! Marten’s rendition of “Where Do You Start?” was soul-stirring and nostalgic, with a heart-breakingly beautiful solo by Willis. During the up-tempo Latin arrangement of “Hello Young Lovers” the trio let it fly with Gail showing her ability to sing way above the fray and kick it! - then at the end tapering the words to a whisper. It was great!
The diverse audience came from far and wide. Two young men, Bill and Richard, who were driving from Washington, D.C. to the symphony in Baltimore, heard Marten’s version of “Skylark” on their car radio, turned in their tickets at Symphony Hall, opting instead to attend this truly wonderful CD release party at EBCC. They had a ball! We all did.
Leslie Imes, Baltimore Jazz Alliance (November 1, 2009)
Fans arrived at The Other Barn in Columbia, Maryland on a crisp winter afternoon to hear the vocal interpretations of Gail Marten. Martenand her talented trio of jazz musicians performed for more than a hundred music lovers, who came from near and far to enjoy her concert. (One couple had made an eight-hour round trip from north of Scranton, PA to attend the event.)
Pianist Richard Johnson, bassist Herman Burney and drummer Robert Shahid kicked off the first set with unique arrangements of “Satin Doll” and “Blue Monk,” and soon those in attendance were in love. To enthusiastic applause, Gail (elegant in burgundy and black) stepped to the microphone and welcomed the attendees, acknowledging many individuals by name. She began with a lively “Taking A Chance On Love” followed by a sultry ballad “I Fall In Love Too Easily.” Her swinging rendition of “What A Difference A Day Makes” had us rocking and swaying in their seats. When she delivered her interpretation of “Alfie,” you could hear a pin drop. And then, as they say, the crowd went wild. Gail opened the second set with “For Once In My Life” then mesmerized with the classic “Skylark.” “Reinventing Me,” a philosophically comedic song that she wrote for her most recent CD In Love Again, had the house in stitches.
Gail dedicated a funky, soulful “God Bless The Child” to “our brothers and sisters suffering in Haiti and all over the world and to those in your own backyard.” She closed the show with her own composition “Big Girl Blues,” a catchy blues with a first-person, tongue-in-cheek lyric from a bodacious, sassy woman (“I pay my own damn bills and find my own cheap thrills . . .”) that offers a reluctant disclaimer at the end. (“If some big boy would come along and help me sing my song . . . he'd cut this big girl down to size.”) The artist captivated us, skillfully weaving her program with songs of love, meaningful messages and wry humor. Hey girl, we love you. When is your next gig?
On a humid night in August a serene moon shone down on Gail Marten as she sang to a relaxed crowd in the hard heart of Howard County. For this lucky group gathered on the slopes of a subtly synthetic amphitheater, Latin jazz and a cool, firm voice made Columbia, MD seem like part of the southern hemisphere, if only in sentiment. The audience ranged from toddlers to kneeslapping seniors, and was comfortably spread out on a grassy incline leading to a lake in the middle of well developed Columbia. Gail Marten sang, backed by a solid rhythm section of the Clem Ehoff trio: drummer Marty Knepp, bassist Alfonso Rondon, and keyboard player Clem Ehoff. "Her Point of View," penned by Marten herself, was a humorous take on gender relations and the value of truth. It also had a pronounced Latin beat like many of the tunes, and provided a chance for sweetly ironic jibes, not to mention sweet singing. The concert was just one in a series of shows presented at the Lakefront in Columbia Tuesday through Thursday throughout the summer.
Eliot Caroom, Baltimore Jazz Alliance
From the funky opening with the title track to the wistful closer “Dream With Me,” Marten makes her points clearly with the words she’s affixed to tunes either by Ehoff or in a few cases herself (one by bassist Alfonso Rondon). The songs have a steady, mature quality. They are straightforward, yet evocative for the most part. They clearly draw on Marten’s life experience without lapsing into the mawkishly confessional. Two songs strike me in particular as both worthy performances here and promising vehicles for others. “Who Would Know” sets a lyric about the lure of secretive over the sensual sashay of a jazz waltz. The supple dance rhythm that Ehoff provides captures the song’s sense of emotional approach and withdrawal. Marten provides the music for “Her Point of View,” an arch tribute for feminine thinking set over a groove that’s two parts funky and one part latin with an occasional fillip of tango. Drummer Marty Knepp and bassist Alfonso Rondon nail the feel firmly without sacrificing its inherent ambiguities. Ehoff is a capable pianist who contributes workmanlike solos to complement the vocals. But on this session it’s Marten’s vocals that deliver the songs as surely as if they were standards she’d been singing since she was a girl.
This CD is described as being a meld of mainstream and latin jazz. It’s nice to hear some original jazz tunes that harken back to the standards of the '30s and '40s while maintaining a very contemporary feel and sensibility. Marten is an adept lyricist, pulling interesting little rhymes out of unusual places. You don’t often see wordplay like this unless you’re reading the lyrics of the likes of Porter or Kern. The melody-writing roles are shared by Marten and Clem Ehoff. The tunes underpin the lyrics, bringing a laid back vibe to each song (even the up-tempo ones) and serving to enhance the effectiveness of the words. Summary: This is really an example of . . . jazz with intelligence. If you want the feel of jazz standards while still being in this century, this is a good CD for you.
Gail M. Once again, you . . . have made the world a better place to live in. Your third CD release is a good thing. Indeed, it is a Great Thing! The title asks the question, "Is It Love?," unrequited, rhetorical, and otherwise. The answer is a resounding YES! This CD reeks with Love. The love of creative musical ideas, the love of beautiful words and phrases—to make the lives of your listeners easier to transverse. We feel the love, we feel the love. Of the 10 selections on the CD, what can I say? They are all so far ABOVE the norm that they in some cases, in my opinion, approach ART. The Art of Music, the Art of Love. Wow! You guys paint with all the colours on the jazz palette, and it is beautiful, it is love.
Gail Marten, chanteuse, saloon singer, lady, and friend. You are a tunesmith/wordsmith/jazz singer of such talent that you are, as Duke used to say, BeYond Category. Your Intelligence, Maturity and Hipness puts you In Touch. You are Love. A few notes on some of the songs. Who Would Know/Pure Joy—Reminds me of the Sophisticated, Urbane style of Cole Porter. On Pure Joy, Clem's music and playing, and your words and ending are brilliant. Her Point of View—You must have written this for my wife Jack. I do know a person with insight and sense of humor wrote this song. The rest of the songs are ALL wonderful, especially "Shades of Blue" and "Is It Love." Great songs. But you know, every once in a while a song comes along that has it ALL. Music, words, arrangement, performance and that special ambience or feeling that sets IT apart. In your last CD, in my view, that song was "Sunday Rain." In my opinion on this CD, that special song is "DREAM WITH ME." This is a Love Anthem. A Magic Carpet Ride that takes you somewhere between the places that you remember and the ones you forget. It touches your memories and tugs at your heart.
F.S. Koiner, The Spotlite
"Dream With Me." This ballad is from Marten's 2005 album Is It Love, backed by an acoustic trio. An excerpt from a review by Anthony Agostinelli, editor of The Network, calls the song the "apex" of the album. Among his other observations: "Gail Marten and (pianist) Clem Ehoff interweave their respective talents her way with lyrics, and his way with musical sounds differently, yet complementary. There is an integral connection between each song. . . . Ehoff's piano, while omnipresent, does not overly dominate, and provides the ride for what we are taking in of the organic whole. A keyboard musical lover in love."
Thanks for the CD which I have played on both of the jazz shows that I do here in Canada. I enjoyed the music, really liked the trio, and thought that the lyrics to many of the tunes were exceptional. "Big Girl Blues," and the title track really spoke to me. I will pass this CD on to the other DJs who do jazz at the station, along with the promo material, and hopefully they will find it as enjoyable as I did. Thank you for sharing your talent with me.
The titular track of Is It Love? sets the tone for this sophisticated and appealing album by Gail Marten and The Clem Ehoff Trio. The simultaneously roomy and intricate arrangement allows the band to stretch out; the integration of Marten’s vocal stylings with the instrumental setting is seamless. At times Marten’s vocals are reminiscent of Flora Purim’s, although the overall tone of the album isn’t nearly as frenetic as the work of Return to Forever. She ranges from breathy to articulate from one song to another, and sometimes intra-tune. . . . In “Lotus Blossom” Ehoff’s cascading piano fills create fittingly calming landscape. This album makes it quite evident that the working relationship between Marten and the Ehoff trio is indeed, lovely. Once its charms have been, the listener, too, must at least begin to suspect that this just might be . . . it could be . . . love.
Eliot Caroom, Baltimore Jazz Alliance
I've said it before; I'm not very well versed in jazz. So don't expect any well-schooled thoughts on this CD. All I can tell you is I like it...I feel like I'm in a ritzy place with a fine dinner and a frosty martini in front of me (two olives, please). Gail Marten has a lovely voice and these songs show it off well. The piano playing is fantastic too. Well written and expertly performed, this is a lovely jazz album that would be great to play at a dinner or cocktail party. I could pretend that I'm a grown up. (Never mind that I'll be 40 in a month…doesn't mean I'm grown up) Stand out songs: "Is it Love," "Lotus Blossom," "Her Point Of View," though they're really all good. If you like one, it's highly likely you'll like the whole recording.
The music is rich in color, rhythm and style. It runs the gamut from “on-the-edge-Latino” to “caliente” and quietly percussive! We are treated to collaborative latino visions of music that stir one’s soul, excites our bodies and enhances our sense of rhythm. Clem Ehoff’s group melds jazz improvisation in a harmonically sophisticated manner driven by a pulsating latin groove . . . a veritable paella of sound and rhythm. Graphic images of the Caribbean washing on American shores explode on every music staff. Are you ready for all of this excitement? Clem’s playing conjures up moments of every great pianist, but is not like any previous keyboard player. He plays with his own voice. This is a great collection of music. Somewhere, somehow, it reaches a place in one’s being that says, “all’s right with the world and the music is “to love” . . . this cookin’ ensemble knows itself. There is an undertow of “latintensity”, which draws one down to its core immersing listeners in its pulsating surge. The music generates a quiet intensity which can propel one to undulate in sync with that propulsion. Gail Marten not only sings lyrics which tell a story, but recites a vivid prose which demonstrates that she has a hip awareness of life – delivered with a voice of sweetness and verve. Gail creates a rhapsodic reverie . . . an aesthetic which must be pleasing to most tuned-in listeners . . . (who) become aware that they are in the presence of a sensitive vocalist, whose instrumental voice also conveys deep messages about life. Gail has a particularly sensuous voice. She not only stirs passion, but she generates reflective thought. Delicious, as the melding of passion and intellect often is . . . the girl next door dressed in a black sheath! The rhythmic surge of Alfonso Rondon and Marty Knepp lets the listener know that there is no untamed spirit in this percussive melange. It is scintillating, bubbling and brilliant.
Anthony Agostinelli, The Newsletter
Pure Joy, in all aspects . . . above all the phrasing of vocals is incredible, and deserves accolades. I especially liked their originals "Sunday Rain" and "One Of Those Tomorrows." The music, though fluid and energetic, is also intimate...with music such as this I have spent many intimate mornings in the Sunday rain. A great contribution to an era where music continues and needs to seek definition.
Hal Whittaker, Review
KUDOS TO GAIL MARTEN & THE CLEM EHOFF TRIO! Keeping alive the musical tradition of accompanied female vocal jazz pioneered by such legends as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald is no small task. But apparently it is a task that Gail Marten and the Clem Ehoff Trio are ready and capable of handling. On their new album, Pure Joy, we find the group in top form. The Trio, comprised of Clem Ehoff, piano; Marty Knepp, drums and percussion; and Alfonso Rondon, bass, provide a solid instrumental foundation for Marten’s sultry and emotive vocals. What makes Pure Joy really stand out is the fact that all but one of the compositions were written by members of the group. It would be easy to play it safe and simply put out a collection of traditional jazz standards, but by taking a risk Marten and the Trio have succeeded in making their own statement to the jazz world. Kudos to them!
Greg Yost, Music Monthly
GAIL MARTEN & THE CLEM EHOFF TRIO Pure Joy consists (almost) entirely of music that Ehoff composed. Marten wrote the lyrics to some of them, and she has the special opportunity to sing her own words on tunes like "Heaven On A Tropic Shore" and "Sunday Rain." Marten’s way of delivering dollops of thoughts or images could conform to any number of musical styles, Ehoff’s fondness once again is for tamed Latin moods. A paler version of extroverted Cuban or Brazilian pianists’ techniques utilizing multiple rhythms and harmonic lines all happening at once, Ehoff’s playing concentrates on several familiar Latin vamps within a single performance to the point of repetitiveness. . . . Nevertheless, Ehoff plays with evident enthusiasm and clean-cut precision that bassist Rondon and drummer Knepp enliven with crisp movement. When Marten joins in half of the tracks, the picture is complete . . . visual images or light-hearted romantic moods described with uncomplicated campfire earnestness.
Bill Donaldson, Cadence Magazine
BEYOND THE RAINBOW
GLORIOUSLY, BEYOND THE RAINBOW. It is a distinct pleasure to hear an accomplished vocalist like Gail Marten, with tasteful pianist Clem Ehoff at the helm, and with first class rhythm players, Marty Knepp and Alfonso Rondon, keeping it all on tack! The mix of Ehoff originals and Marten singing gorgeous standards, makes this CD a treasure trove of sparkling wonders—enhanced by the wonderful display of nature’s colors on the packaging. When should I listen to this . . . in the brisk of morning, to dispel the sounds of traffic en route to wherever . . . at afternoon siesta time . . .in the early evening time . . . and in the wee small hours . . . yes, every time of day and night! Gail Marten is as “now” as a Cosmopolitan in a frosted beaker, and knows about singing . . . we all know what the intention of the lyricist is, when she delivers her song! Ehoff, who conceived the arrangements, graces the CD with his authoritative playing – never a slouch about asserting himself . . . Knepp’s faultless and subtle drumming and Rondon’s melodic bass, lay out a pulse which adores the pieces chosen. Ehoff’s compositions alone would have been worth an entire CD . . . he has the knack of putting notes, phrases, improvisations, in a freely structured whole—the compositions are so seamless, that one thinks the music has been heard before . . . but it hasn’t, it is unique to the composer, which he plays effortlessly. Did I like the CD? Of course I did!
Anthony Agostinelli, The Newsletter
GAIL FORCE IS IN TOWN. Columbia resident Gail Marten has been singing in mid-Atlantic jazz clubs for more than 20 years. It’s not an easy life, because there’s not enough regular work to keep a band together, so a singer is often reinventing the wheel with a new cast of players. Marten, though, has finally stepped off this treadmill and has formed an ongoing partnership with pianist Clem Ehoff, a Baltimore jazz musician for 30 years. The pianist plays all her live gigs (including one in Columbia next week), arranged the nine standards on her new album, “Beyond the Rainbow” (Shangri-La), and wrote four original tunes for the project. Ehoff has crafted a sound that suits Marten’s voice and savvy instincts. His understated piano phrasing, marked by open spaces and a leisurely swing, fits Marten’s conversational, seen-it-all delivery. Her fascination with Brazilian music gives the songs a tropical, midafternoon languor, even supplying George Gershwin’s “Summertime” with a Rio beat and a breathy stoicism. Marten creates a memorable character through her songs—a woman who has seen too much to be naively romantic but who has enjoyed it too much to forgo love’s pleasures. In Marten, Ehoff has found a partner who gives voice to the well-seasoned textures of his music. After several of her vocals a piano instrumental such as the Bill Evans tribute, “Remembering Bill,” almost seems to sing beneath Ehoff’s touch.
Geoff Himes, Patuxent Publishing (July 2001)