One thing that makes live music great is the way artists feed off an audience's energy. San Francisco-based vocalist Clairdee makes that point clear on the opening notes of "Yes Sir, That's My Baby, the first song on Music Moves. As the audience applauds the introduction, Clairdee says that's the reaction she wants to hear, "even if you don't mean it.
This playful approach is Clairdee's modus operandia style that says be serious in creating the sound but have fun while you're doing it, skillfully melding music with comedy. Backed by a more-than-competent ensemble of four musicians, she adds another delight to her discography, which includes 2000's Destination Moon and 2003's This Christmas.
A regular performer at venues along the California coast, Clairdee brings her particular sense of musical fun whether on stage or in the studio. And while many young singers join the jazz scene with covers of standards, including several that can be found on this album, few do it with a penchant for thinking outside the proverbial music box. Clairdee rarely, if ever, does standards in straightforward fashion. She makes them her ownin some cases tweaking here and there, in others completely overhauling them, as she did with the Brazilian rhythms injected into "Winter Wonderland for This Christmas.
"I like to surprise my listeners, Clairdee says of her tendency to mix and match styles of such classic jazz performers as Count Basie, Joe Williams, Les McCann, and Eddie Harris. The result is a fresh and exciting new arrangement. "I imagined what it might have been like to hear this powerful foursome perform together on stage, she says.
After the slick opening number and "Cheek to Cheek, Clairdee and her ensemble put a new spin on the Jobim/Getz/Gilberto classic "Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars (Corcovado), delivered with a deep acoustic bass solo by Ron Belcher. That sets up a deep electric bass line to bring the listener into a funk-inspired rendition of "Summertime. The song also takes on a bluesy feel when saxophonist Charles McNeal gets busy, followed by Ken French on the keys. After the solos, Clairdee enjoys a bit of humorous banter with the audience before going into the final verse.
On "Do Something, she implores her imaginary lover to hug, kiss, squeeze, and please her. Then, staying in rhythm, she ad-libs: "If I say anything else, they're going to censor the show. At the end of the track, she says, "You guys like them dirty... before the fade catches her. If that's not sassy enough, Clairdee cranks it up on Mississippi Delta blues singer Denise LaSalle's "Someone Else Is Steppin' In.
To end the show, Clairdee and her band perform "Alright, Okay, You Win to a backdrop of Harris' "Cold Duck Time. The result is a creative, energetic climax. Music Moves is aptly named, as Clairdee and friends deliver a charming, moving album that should be a keeper for years to come.
Yes Sir, That's My Baby; Cheek to Cheek; Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars; Summertime; Do Something; If I Could Be With You for One Hour Tonight; Sunny; Someone Else is Steppin' In; All the Way; Alright, Okay, You Win.
Clairdee: vocals; Ken French: piano, keyboard; Ron Belcher: bass; Deszon X. Claiborne:
drums; Charles McNeal: soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones.
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