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Charmaine Forde’s resounding return

Thursday, March 15, 2018

US-based T&T songstress Charmaine Forde held nothing back when she made a resounding return to the local stage at Kaiso Blues Café last Sunday with We Kinda Jazz.

Whatever was in the liquid concoction passed to her by her friend Patrice Grey-Smith at the start of the show, it worked magic on Forde’s supposedly sore throat from rigorous rehearsals the evenings before.

Her rich voice showed no sign of even the most minor injury.

There was no gratuitous exploring of the great standards, but the best female jazz singers are known to expertly employ vocal range and treatment when interpreting music from a wide range of available genres.

In this respect, there was also little by way of indigenous compositions to bring meaning to the evening’s billing. But who really cared anyway?

Kicking off an energetic set before a packed house was a faithful rendition of the 1980 hit What You Won’t Do For Love, originally produced for Forde by guitarist Michael Boothman who led musical accompaniment for the show. Later on, the music veteran intervened with some of his trademark cool jazz solos.

On the keyboard was 1980s hit-maker under the Kalinda label, Stephen Encinas. Encinas is best known for his 1979 ballad Rock-A-Bye Baby Love and memorable collaborations with legendary drummer/percussionist Toby Tobas.

The youngsters on deck providing competent support, were Clint DeCoteau on the bass and Jonathan Hensely on the drums.

DeCoteau and Hensely emerge from the Boothman stable of musical protégés. The veteran guitarist currently leads a musical mentorship programme involving new and upcoming talent.

Forde’s opening statement was followed by a dreamy rendition of Anita Baker’s Caught Up In The Rapture which set the stage for a selection of jazzy interpretations of popular R&B/Pop hits of the past and present such as Roberta Flack’s Feel Like Making Love and Sam Smith’s Stay With Me.

Nothing to betray the age demographic of an audience more than the sing-along segments and Forde worked a knowledgeable crowd that included the likes of Pelham Goddard, Arthur Marcial, David and Roger Boothman, and a cross-section of other accomplished musicians and aficionados.

Encinas could have done the same with his memorable 1979 paean to the children of the world, but instead chose to provide background vocals and elaborate support on the keys.

Boothman, on the other hand, knew he could not get away without a contemporary treatment of his 1977 hit, Heaven. It was what the crowd needed as a valuable lagniappe during an evening that promised We Kinda Jazz and delivered much more.

It may well be that Sunday’s standing-room-only show signals the need for a larger space for quality presentations of this kind. The customary Kaiso Blues Café quality service however helped keep things classy and cozy.


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