Saturday, January 08, 2011

Clamor’s Soulful Sounds: Something Good

A few years ago, the notion of Charmaine Clamor’s “jazzipino” fusion of jazz and traditional Filipino music might have been perceived as an exotic hook in and of itself. And then it started to catch on. After headlining several festivals of Filipino jazz, both here and there, Clamor has built a name and a reputation as her countrymen’s leading jazz ambassador. Tonight, she returns to New York to launch her new CD, Something Good, at the Triad Theater on Manhattan’s fashionable Upper Westside.

Opening with some typical genre straddling, “Every Single Moment” clearly evokes the sound of traditional Filipino ballads (which in turn were influenced by Spanish forms), with its sensitive acoustic guitar and gentle rhythms. Clamor caresses the lyrics, combining the sensibilities of an old world balladeer and a contemporary soul singer.

Clamor then digs deep into the jazz bag with the funky Horace Silver-Jon Hendricks tune “Doodlin,’” given a partial Tagalog makeover as “‘Doodlin’ in Taglish.” It is quite a bi-lingual workout, featuring some impressive vocalizing from Clamor. It is followed by the album’s standout jazz track, the title Richard Rodgers standard. A perfect showcase for Clamor’s vocal range and her seductive interpretative flair, it is the sort of performance that should heartily appeal to Diana Krall fans.

The centerpiece of Good is the “Mother Nature Suite,” which begins with the darkly hued “Motherless Ili-Ili,” Clamor’s intriguing adaptation of “Motherless Child.” Completely shifting gears, “Let’s Take a Trip” is a snappy swinger (almost Mose Allison-esque in its upbeat slyness), while the Brazilian flavored “Flow” completes the triptych on a decidedly catchy note.

A major hit for Filipina R&B-pop artist Regine Velasquez, “Ikaw” has a crossover lineage that also seems well suited to Clamor. Nicely arranged by tenor saxophonist Robby Marshall, “Ikaw” she clearly enjoys its appealingly brassy, Rat-Packy vibe. Though Good ends “Breakfast with Bubba,” a novelty “bonus track” that somewhat clashes with the rest of the album, the real climax is “Believe in Love.” Bluesy and gospel tinged, it is a stirring conclusion to a strong album.

Clamor incorpates a lot in her music, including jazz, soul, funk, as well as the diverse Filipino and Tagalog styles. By turns playful and alluring, it makes quite a pleasing impression on listeners. Warmly recommended, Good is now available at better music retailer everywhere, which fact Clamor will celebrate with special performances tonight (1/8) at the Triad and Saturday the 29th in Broomfield, CO.

(Photo: Ned Vizmanos)