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APRIL 26 & 27

Named best new jazz artist of 1994 and best jazz vocalist of 1995 at the British Jazz Awards, Claire Martin is a smart, sophisticated singer with chops and maturity beyond her years. On her studio release Old Boyfriends, the twentysomething Martin proves herself a versatile, witty interpreter with a well-chosen, idiosyncratic repertoire that ranges from the saucy, breathless 1950s Burt Bacharach number “Out of My Continental Mind” to the achingly introspective early-’80s Tom Waits title track. The follow-up, Offbeat, (currently unavailable in the U.S. except at Martin’s appearances) finds Martin and her band opening up and swinging it live. She bares her soul and flattens a former beau on the bluesy, sardonic “Would You Believe,” and on “Wishful Thinking” lets her guard down, detailing her dream lover before softly delivering the twist: “It’s sad but true/My idea of romance…isn’t you.” Although her name is becoming known in the U.S., Martin has performed stateside only once before—also at the Willard. So how does D.C. get to be so lucky? Thank producer, “Wishful” lyricist, Grammy-winning liner-note author (and City Paper critic) Joel E. Siegel, who produced Martin’s last two discs, for bringing her back. With pianist David Newton at 8 & 10 p.m. Friday & Saturday at the Nest, Willard Hotel, 1401 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. $16. (202) 628-9100. (Glenn Dixon)