Heard several tracks in progress from Charmaine Clamor’s new recording last night. Quite a selection of tunes–none of the usual jazz standards at all. Instead there’s a remarkable take on “Imagine” (a tune that rarely survives covering) propelled by some really striking rhythmic piano by Laurence Hobgood. There’s a surprising “O Shenandoah”, a George Harrison tune, a Carole King, a take (in Spanish) on a Mercedes Sosa tune, which she nails, and at long last she’s recorded her knock out interpretation of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah”. Think we heard eight tunes in all, none of them straight copies or scatting jazz jams. Each is a wholly new interpretation. Originality and creativity and great playing coming together. Laurence Hobgood’s arrangements and piano are deep, he’s taken her to a whole new level, and Charmaine matches/surpasses. Very passionate vocals even by her standard–that’s always been her thing, the passion–and she’s showing subtleties untapped till now. The sound is full and warm and rich. This thing has crossover potential I think (KCRW and that end of the dial definitely) without selling out to commercialism even one iota. Ernie Watts by the way, sits in and kills it, and drummer Abe Lagrimas picks up the ukulele in about as uncliched way as you can imagine. One of my favorite pianists around town, Andy Langham, even takes the bench for a couple numbers. And while I can’t say enough about Hobgood’s presence here, it’s Charmaine’s record through and through, it’s her feel, even on the instrumental passages it never gets away from her. Anyway, I totally dug it. This is major label stuff if I ever heard it.