Thursday, May 6, 2010

Charito: Watch What Happens

By Ric Bang • Originally published in The Davis Enterprise, 5.6.10
Buy CD: Watch What Happens

Charito, a vocalist born in the Philippines and based in Japan, may not be well known in the States, but French composer Michel Legrand is a living legend everywhere.

Legrand has collaborated with other vocalists — Sarah Vaughn and Lena Horn come to mind — but he rarely plays piano with them. Well, in this album Legrand is both the pianist in the supporting jazz combo, and sings duets and scats with Charito on four tunes.

Charito entered the spotlight in the early 1990s, with performances and recordings on Japanese labels. She's a star in that country, and has toured extensively throughout the world. During a trip to Paris, she arranged a meeting with Legrand; after hearing her sing, he agreed to record with her.

This album, which contains 13 of his most famous songs, is the result.

Everything Legrand writes becomes a classic, but we best remember the melodies associated with movies. Nobody could forget the soundtracks and title songs from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, Summer of '42 and The Thomas Crown Affair. Those melodies and lyrics remain with the listener forever; this album contains all of them, along with many more of Legrand's beautiful tunes.

Charito's voice is rich and expressive, and her phrasing is exquisite. Legrand's piano is excellent, his voice surprisingly good. Their back-up band is unidentified, except for an additional pianist, but the support is perfect for the tunes selected.

You're certain to put this album into heavy rotation.

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