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MP3 Charmaine Clamor - Flippin' Out

A new kind of world music: soulful American jazz and blues meets traditional Filipino love songs.

12 MP3 Songs
WORLD: Asian, JAZZ: Jazz Vocals

Upon the release of her debut album, "Searching for the Soul"(FreeHam; 2005), All About Jazz predicted that the Philippines-born American singer CHARMAINE CLAMOR "could shake the musical world."

Now she has.

Born in the provincial town of Subic-Zambales, Philippines, Charmaine Clamor started singing at age 3, entertaining passengers in buses traveling to Manila -- whether they liked it or not! Raised in a home filled with beautiful music -- with a mother singing kundiman, the traditional Filipino torch song; with Ella Fitzgerald on the radio; with Mario Lanza records on the turntable -- Clamor [pronounced clah-MORE] was simultaneously immersed in two different but complementary musical cultures. She loved Filipino music and American music equally. And she fantasized of one day blending her dual passions. When she was 16, Clamor''s family immigrated to the United States. Despite learning English as a second language -- Charmaine''s first tongue is Tagalog, the national language of the Philippines -- Clamor was the valedictorian of her high school class, in Los Angeles. She subsequently earned a Master''s degree in physical therapy. But music -- the music of her youth and of her adopted home -- has been her life''s calling.

On her new CD, Flippin'' Out (September 1, 2007), the first Filipina to find success on American jazz radio realizes her lifelong dream of synthesizing American jazz, blues, and soul with traditional Filipino folk music, instantly creating a new hybrid genre she calls "jazzipino."

Her groundbreaking album opens with "My Funny Brown Pinay," a startling re-invention of the familiar Rodgers & Hart tune, "My Funny Valentine." Combining English and Tagalog lyrics, Clamor transforms a classic love song into an anthem of native pride. Brought up in a culture that often vainly attempts to emulate its colonial conquerers, Clamor fiercely celebrates her Indio brown skin and flat-nose, inspiring anyone who has ever struggled to find her place in the world.

One well-known L.A. jazz writer jokingly described Clamor as "Sarah Vaughan trapped in the body of a supermodel." Her timeless performance of "I Hadn''t Anyone ''til You" is Clamor''s way of assuring her jazz fans that the straight-ahead torch-singer they adore isn''t going anywhere. She''s just momentarily Flippin'' Out. Backed by the renowned trio of Christian Jacob, Trey Henry and Ray Brinker (the Grammy-nominated Tierney Sutton Band), Clamor recalls a 1930''s chanteuse lost in memories of love.

Throughout Flippin'' Out, Clamor proudly features Filipino guest musicians. On "Candy," which swings as hard as Barry Bonds going for the fences, the New York-based alto sax virtuoso, Julius Tolentino (Sharp Nine), lends his blazing, bop-influenced style.

Clamor began her American singing career as a "KJ" -- a karaoke hostess! Pop music is in her blood. But U2 never imagined a version of their hit song "With or Without You" made quite so lonely, quite so haunting.

To remind listeners that even nice Filipina girls can sing the blues -- and sing ''em raunchy! -- Clamor takes on the naughty Nina Simone song "Sugar in My Bowl." Charmaine claims that a living legend, her friend and mentor Linda "the Kid" Hopkins, taught her how to perform a "dirty song" properly, because it''s not a skill one naturally learns in the Philippines.

The centerpiece of Flippin'' Out is the Filipino Suite, five tracks sung entirely in Tagalog or Bisayan, melding the traditional American jazz trio sound with indigenous Filipino music. The Filipino Suite features the kulintang, a percussion ensemble of tribal drums and gongs that have been played in Clamor''s birth country for more than 1,000 years, and the ukulele, played by the Hawaiian master Abe Lagrimas, Jr. Clamor includes a harana, a song performed as part of traditional Filipino courtship, a Filipino lullaby (with Filipino guitarist and Naxos recording artist Ric Ickard), and several kundiman, the Filipino version of an American torch song. Late in 2006, when Clamor headlined the 2nd Annual Filipino-American Jazz Festival, in Hollywood, she witnessed countless non-Filipino music lovers moved to tears by her version of the Philippines'' most beloved song, "Dahil Sa'' Yo." It was then that Clamor became convinced her music could cut across geographical and cultural divides. She was truly performing "world" music.

After a playful scat romp with her Greek colleague Zaxariades (protégé of the great Jon Hendricks), Charmaine Clamor concludes her Flippin'' Out journey with the first tune she remembers hearing in her childhood home: Mario Lanza''s "Be My Love." Fittingly, she sings the song in both English and Tagalog.

Don Heckman, chief jazz critic of the Los Angeles Times wrote of Charmaine Clamor, "There''s no doubt a first-rate jazz talent is present. Her debut album announced the arrival of an impressive new vocal artist." Flippin'' Out announces the arrival of an imaginative singer daring to create a category all her own.

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