Claire has a bright, clear voice; her phrasing is simple but easy, flexible. The improvisatory chances she takes work. Her scatting doesn’t grate on the nerves, and although she has listened closely to Ella, she inhabits the great Fitzgerald mansion with ease, making it her own.
Claire doesn’t go for the dark depths of GLOOMY SUNDAY, so the world-weariness of BLACK COFFEE is slightly beyond her, but that only suggests a more sunny world-view. I am suspicious of contemporary pop songs brought into a jazz context, but her PHANTOM DOLL is convincing throughout. Her arching MY MAN’S GONE NOW, a song I would have thought too dark for her, is quite touching: rather than aiming for dark majesties, she sings with a clear, simple intensity.
Hear for yourself. On Claire’s MySpace page, she swings through CONFIRMATION, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, IF I WERE A BELL, and MIDNIGHT SUN.
Now for the surprise: wanting to know more of Dickson, I went online and found that she had recorded these two sessions on SCATTIN’ DOLL when she was twelve and thirteen years old. There is no sense of a precocious moppet singing grownup songs here! I think that she is a young woman with a startling talent.