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Charmaine Clamor: Flippin’ Out

That Filipino-American singer Charmaine Clamor is as drop-dead gorgeous as Nancy Wilson or Lena Horne is a nice bonus, but is beside the point. What really matters is that Clamor vocally resembles an amalgam of Wilson and Horne, a sumptuously elegant blend of silk and satin, trimmed with gutsy self-possession. It’s a sound that generated plenty of attention when, three years ago, she served up a delectable assortment of standards on her debut disc, Searching for the Soul. Now, with the release of Flippin’ Out, Clamor has moved a giant step forward, crafting an entirely new musical form; a hybrid of American jazz and Filipino folk music dubbed “jazzipino” (a term the album’s title anagrammatically toys with). Working alongside Tierney Sutton’s top-drawer trio-pianist Christian Jacob, bassist Trey Harris and drummer Ray Brinker-Clamor the inventive torch-bearer is still present with a rich, creamy cover of “I Hadn’t Anyone ‘Til You,” a playfully sensuous “Candy” and a fresh take on “Sugar In My Bowl” that’s more hard toffee than honey-dipped.

She also has terrific fun with guest guitarist and percussionist Zaxariades on his delightfully buoyant “I Need a Lot of Love,” and bows to the classic American pop she was raised on with a brooding treatment of the Mario Lanza chestnut “Be My Love.” But, getting to the jazzipino point, Clamor opens with a clever paean to self-worth by reinventing Rodgers and Hart’s “My Funny Valentine” as “My Funny Brown Pinay,” mixing English and Tagalog lyrics. Then, singing in Tagalog and Bisayan while augmenting the trio with the Pakaraguian Kulintang Ensemble (a traditional Filipino assemblage of gongs and tribal gongs) and Abe Lagrimas Jr.’s ukulele, she fills the disc’s center with a five-part “Filipino Suite” comprised of one harana (a Filipino courtship song), a Filipino lullaby, and three examples of kundiman (the Filipino equivalent of an American torch song). In doing so, Clamor establishes herself as a dynamic new compass point in world music.

Originally Published