Sunday, December 24, 2006

christmas eve at yoshi's

Tonight Elaine, Don, Lisette and I decided to head over to Yoshi’s to hear the very talented Clairdee (official site). For the past 5 years Clairdee has performed a special Christmas Eve concert, following a tradition Charles Brown helped establish. With Brown’s bassist Ruth Davies on upright and a set list highlighting “Merry Christmas Baby” and closing with a raucous “Ringing in a Brand New Year” it felt like Mr. Brown was with us smiling and signing.

Clairdee has been signing jazz all her life. Influenced by greats like Johnny Hartman, Joe Williams and Nat King Cole, she shares their smooth style and knows how to make a song her own. This was certainly evident is the beautiful Frank Loesser tune “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” and his playful “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” She also studied Betty Carter and Nancy Wilson, and she made it clear that she shares their gifts of phrasing and power.

On stage with her tonight was an all-star local lineup: Ken French and Jon Herbst on piano and keyboards; Ruth Davies on bass; Jim Zimmerman on drums; John Hoy on guitar; and Rich Armstrong (myspace) with additional vocals, trumpet, flugelhorn and 20 different percussion devices. I love her voice, I love her band, and I thank Clairdee for sharing her Christmas with us.

In 2003 she released a holiday music album that will become one of your Christmas favorites. Especially beautiful is John Herbst’s instrumental arrangement of Horace Silver’s Peace. An instrumental is an odd selection for a singer’s CD, but it speaks to her confidence and love of music that she showcased this pretty and moving song.

Peace (iTunes, Amazon)

Bonus link: Don’t overlook 2005’s excellent Music Moves (iTunes, Amazon)
recorded live at Yoshi’s

Bonus event: Clairdee at Michael Mina New Year’s Eve