Mon David

Coming True

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Filipino-American vocalist Mon David should be a pleasant discovery for those who have been seeking a new champion of male jazz singers in a female-dominated world. There's no mistaking who David's big influence is, as his inflections, stutter-step phrasings, and soaring, slurred-interval explosions come straight out of the book of Mark Murphy. He owns a husky tenor voice, and is a very capable and original scat singer, while his standard repertoire is thoughtfully rendered without being compromised or cattily copped. Pianist Tateng Katindig is another of those great piano players who shows his mettle from start to finish, despite his name not being of the household variety. Katindig is very capable of swinging, digging into funk or bluesy shadings, and plays consistently interesting solos. The unheralded team of bassist Dominic Thiroux and drummer Abe Lagrimas are more than adequate, they are consummate professionals who keep the coals burning, and never get in the way of the others or each other. David extrapolates on Nnenna Freelon's lyrics to Wayne Shorter's "Footprints" with verses of his own, and adding a fine scat to the intro, while "Kailangan Yan" is Thelonious Monk's "We'll, You Needn't" sung in his native language. A light samba version of Abbey Lincoln's statement on disposable society, "Throw It Away" is as heartfelt as the original and just as poignant, while his take on the Brazilian song "No More Blues" with text from Jon Hendricks is both sensual and energetic. Tenor saxophonist Justo Almario is also along for the ride on a very Mark Murphy-ish, sneaky, tick-tock version of "Invitation," and the exceptional Philippine singer Charmaine Clamor trades fun and functional lines with David on his funk-to-swing original "Only Once." When David combines the standards "Moonlight" with "Moonlight Serenade," he picks up an acoustic guitar for starters, à la Charlie Byrd, then digs in on a pronounced scat that continues to emphasize the hallmark of his sound, and the steadied sophistication it brings. For someone who is a relative unknown across he U.S., this is a surprising and enjoyable recording, no doubt a successful outing, and one that holds more promise under the precept of an expanding repertoire and developing personalized stance. Coming True comes easily recommended.

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