Destination Moon

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A vocalist choosing to perform a program of standards in a laid-back, relaxed manner had better have the chops to sustain slow tempos since there's nowhere to hide. Clairdee, one of the very fine singers now working out of the San Francisco area, pulls this off going away. With her husky, deep-toned contralto, she runs through a musical agenda of 11 standards and near standards. All the usual adjectives rightfully apply to her voice and delivery: lush, velvet, smooth, sensuous, and romantic. But don't be misled. This is not just another pretty voice doing an easy listening album. Clairdee brings to the recording studio a jazz feeling that gives much more than a modicum of interpretative fresh air to gems from the Great American Songbook. In this undertaking, she is royally supported by the very good musicians who join her in the studio. On the title tune "Destination Moon," the opening measures by bass player John Wiitala provide the thematic framework for Clairdee and pianist Ken French to follow. Wiitala is becoming the bass player of choice for other San Francisco-based vocalists. There's a Latin-tinged rendition of "Star Eyes" that is one of the highlights of the album. Here Clairdee demonstrates the ability to be soft and tender despite a Latin beat pulsating around her. One of the rare moments of swinging animation comes on "Beautiful Friendship," where Clairdee unleashes her scatting, but in a way that does not override the whimsical ambience she creates with the CD. Dmitri Matheny's fl├╝gelhorn is used sparingly on this set. But he engages in a pleasant give-and-take with the singer on "I've Got the World on a String." With this album, Clairdee establishes her credentials as one of the more lyrical vocalists on today's scene, making Destination Moon a pleasure to recommend.

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