Sunday, October 31, 2010

Charmaine Clamor Is Something Good Indeed

Vocalist Charmaine Clamor describes herself “I’m a Filipino-American. It’s true, I’m a jazz singer. I do this musical blending called jazzipino, and it comes straight from my heart. But it’s also true that I’m a citizen of Earth, and I’m a world-blues-funk-soul-pop vocalist who won’t be, can’t be, categorized. I’m me, and this is my music.” She certainly has come along way from entertaining passengers -- whether they liked it or not! -- in the back of buses traveling to Manila. In the interim, she has garnered more than a few rave reviews.

Her new CD, “Something Good” (Freeham Records) mixes jazz, R&B, filipino and other elements. She displays at a smokey, sensous style and others more of a romantic charm, but throughout enchants with her timing, phrasing and tone. Its a delightful mix of songs and settings to frame her voice. The opening “Every Single Moment” has a languid delivery of her reflections of past moments, kisses, plans and now she is so much wiser, set against a intricate accompaniments of strings and percussion followed by her understated, delightful updating of Jon Hendrick’s lyrics for Horace Silver “Doodlin’”, with swinging piano from Eli Brueggemann. The title track is the Rodgers-Hammerstein standard taken at a slow drag tempo that allows Clamor to lend it a bluesy flavor with effective use of stop-times in the performance. Synth’ed horns and real ones are part of the backing in the buoyant celebration of Stevie Wonder’s music, “Feelin’ Stevie,” with Clamor’s joyfully singing a lyric incorporates a number of Wonder’s song-titles in its lyric as she sings he is the “Master Blaster of the harmonica, Charlie Parker on a prayerful mission …” After that ebullient performance the mood shifts a filipino adaptation of the traditional negro spiritual on, “Motherless Ili Ili,” with Dominic Thiroux’s arco bass adding to the performance’s mood.

The spirited Brazilian styled, “Flow” celebrates life and nature, from a simple drink of water, and a simple drink of life. A children’s chorus added on the vocal chorus here. “Maalaala Mo Kaya,” is sung in her native tongue to the bouncy latin rhythm she asks “Do you remember, your promise to me, that you love, will never end,” marvelously backed by the marvelous piano trio that is the core of the accompaniments here.” Clamor turns in a sultry, sensuous blues vocal on “Sweet Spot,” with Brueggemann adding grease on the organ. Tempo changes on the cha cha cha, “The Farther You Go,” with punchy and responsive horns added while “Believe in Love,” is an uplifting ballad as her voice soars as she delivers this wonderful lyric.

I cannot overstate how consistently fine the backing she receives as well. The add embellishments around her vocals, but never dominate a performance, rather providing a supple setting for her singing. The mix of material and musical backdrops combined with Clamor’s sensuous and evocative vocals makes “Something Good” a terrific recording. Her website is and the CD can be purchased there.

My review copy was supplied by the publicity firm for this CD release.

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