Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Jazz Explosion At The Grill

Photos by Albert Vargas

7PM April 5, 2008. Location is Catalina Bar and Grill Jazz club on Sunset blvd in Hollywood, California. The weather is superb and we are in a party mood. Ted Benito, friend and manager to Ms Charmaine Clamor, welcomes us and leads us to Ms Clamor’s dressing room for the press interview. We are impressed by her down to earth personality. No Attitudes, and quite accommodating. There is no evidence of the talent and power this person carries within her during the interview. Our dialogue lasts fifteen minutes and we are happy with the outcome.

The jazz aficionados begin to sprinkle in. The Catalina Bar and Grill is a perfect setting for this event. It is cozy and romantic. Candle-lit tables with dimmed indirect lighting creates the ambience. Waiters were everywhere ready to take orders. Excellent customer service. Jazz lovers tend to be higher end. The genre being that of successful baby boomers and former yuppies now thinking of early retirement. Jazz reflects a mindset. It is someone who has been there and done that. Give me some fine music that does not jumble up my thought process. Give me sounds that soothes and accentuates the soul. Yes!

The audience is a mixture of different ethnic groups. It is clear that Ms Clamor has a following. The well dressed spectators cheer exuberantly as Charmaine enters stage. Her dazzling attire accentuates her fit, slim figure.

The concert starts out with her singing “My Funny Brown Pinay”. The song is a torch for all Filipinas to be proud of the way they look. Accept yourself and be happy. Explore your potentials and achieve your dreams. This composition mirrors Charmaine’s thoughts about her homeland, the Philippines.

She continues. From a mellow start, it begins to pick up with “Sugar in My Bowl”. This is a naughty, naughty song. Sultry, sassy, and provocative. But she delivers it with such control, power, and most of all, personality. Felt like blushing while listening to this song.

The night progresses. Her rendition of “Dahil Sa’yo” is impressive. Forget Imelda Marcos’ rendition. Ms Clamor’s version of this Filipino classic was so jazzy and sung from the heart. The non-Filipino audience where transfixed, mesmerized by the feelings imbedded in the delivery, and the beauty of the melody. Being a Filipino-American, I felt a bit choked up. Goose bumps when she hit those high notes. I felt that way because we Pinoys have this sensitivity. Ya Baby!

Charmaine, backed by master guitarist Ric Ickard, presented some of her harana songs. It is amazing how one great vocalist and an excellent classic guitar player can captivate a roomful of music lovers. And that they surely did. It was apparent that Jazzipino was the new drug being introduced into the veins of all jazz lovers.

Then along came Michael Konik and Mon David. Their vocal jamming with Charmaine was hilarious. It was a duel of musical skills, taunting and teasing each other to the point of making the audience crack up. Mon and Charmaine did a song entitled “San Mig and Balut” which reflected the Filipino eclectic ways. Like, whatever works, we will take it. And Michael Konik kept on coming in indicating he wanted none of that balut stuff but wanted some of Mon David. This was all done in jazz.. almost hip hop jazz but not quite.. a tinge of Al Jurreau.. and should I say bebop? You should have been there. Three masters playing at it. Who could ask for anything more. The spectators not only enjoyed the presence of these talents but also witnessed the birth, the melding of Filipino words into South American melodies and beat, other than classical jazz. Ted Benito referred to this musical hybrid as taganova or bossalog (tagalog bossa nova). Hey, its Pinoy power however way you want to say it.

Time flies when you’re having fun. It was 10PM when the Charmaine Clamor concert ended. The fans stayed around to have their CD’s autographed and photos taken with the celebrities. Please make it a point to see one of her shows. It’s so much better than staying home and watching television. With her, you witness the rise of the Filipino culture on an international level via talent and personality. Charmaine Clamor, Mon David, and Ric Ickard. These are countrymen who represent the capabilities of our culture. Mabuhay!

Charmaine’s website: charmaineclamor.com Check it out!

Written by: John F. Lacson/ pinoywired.com

Photos by: Albert Vargas/ pinoywired.com
Slideshow: Ver Penaranda/ pinoywired.com