Charmaine Clamor spins a web of magic every time she sings. Her expressive voice lets the words breathe and throb as she captures the essence of the lyrics and brings them to life. It matters little whether she is singing jazz, blues, pop, or songs from her native Philippines, she takes each one and makes them her own.
Jazz is central to the theme of Flippin' Out. Her rendition of "I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You" is just stunning. She sets the mood impeccably, drawing from the well of emotion to build a remarkable song of love. Julius Tolentino on alto sax adds to the impact with his warm breathy tone, a charming turn of phrase coming in on a quote of "Mona Lisa."
Clamor sings in Tagalog and Bisayan, two Filipino languages, on the five-song "Filipino Suite," which opens with the medley, "Panahon Na/Hindi Kita Malimot." The first is a lively chant dancing on the kulintang (a row of drums and gongs), with Clamor singing breezily. The mood changes as she slips into "Hindi Kita Malimot," a torch song lit by her husky voice. The approach has mellowed but the deep grain of feeling is constantly present. The frame is perfect for Clamor, and she continues to kindle the flame on "Usahay" and "Minamahal Kita," two radiant ballads. The suite closes with the lilting "Dahil Sa'Yo. Clamor is in her nook, extending the range of her voice and finding fine support from Tolentino. But the most telling mark is the way in which she brings in jazz harmony with her phrasing and through the arrangements.
The band is stripped down to a trio, with Christian Jacob adding some deep blues runs on the piano as Clamor's huskiness stirs the heat on "Sugar in My Bowl. She coos, cajoles, taunts, tempts, and is delightfully salacious.
Clamor is one of the finest singers to come around in a long time.
Personnel: Charmaine Clamor: vocals; Christian Jacob: piano; Trey Henry: bass; Ray Brinker: drums; Julius Tolentino: alto sax; Abe Lagrimas, Jr.: ukulele; Gustavo Garcia: percussion; Richard Ickard: guitar; Zaxariades: guitar, percussion, vocals; Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble: kulintang.