Chantal Chamberland,”The Other Woman,” CD review by Stanley Fefferman

September 6, 2008

Recently, I stopped reviewing Pop, Folk and Jazz albums that come into because the focus of my interest locked itself onto Classical, especially new Classical. So when my friend Jane sent me Chantal’s “The Other Woman” it sat in my in-basket until the day I decided to include it for variety in the CD 6 pack I take on drives between Toronto to Ottawa.

It was on the seventh track that the penny dropped. Chantal sang “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” the 1955 song composed by David Mann, with lyrics by Bob Hilliard, that Sinatra recorded as the title track of his hyper- popular ‘blue’ album. It came to me that this tune is ‘classical’ music. Why? Because I have been listening to it for 50 years and I am not tired yet.

The same can be said for how I feel about some of the other tracks on this very easy-to-hear album: “I Don’t Know Enough About You” written by Peggy Lee & Dave Barbour, recorded by the smoky voiced Miss Lee in 1946 and 31 years later by Diana Krall who now ‘owns’ it, I’d say, because when I listen to Ms. Chamberland’s excellent rendition, I still hear Diana Krall.

Given that her English is perfect, it comes as a surprise to hear strong French Canadian intonations in Chantal’s convincingly tender treatment of “La Mer”(La Meyer) written in 1943 by French composer, lyricist, singer and showman Charles Trenet (in ten minutes, allegedly on toilet paper), and subsequently rewritten by Jack Lawrence and entitled “Beyond the Sea” — a hit for Bobby Darin in 1960, and  recorded by more than 400 other artists in many languages. That’s classical too.

The title song is Jesse Mae Robinson’s 1959 tune recorded live at New York’s Town Hall by Nina Simone, by now a classic in its own right, and made even more classical by diva soprano Anne Sofie Von Otter’s 2001 collaboration with Elvis Costello that I play for myself and friends regularly since I first heard it recommended by Jorgen Gothe on the CBC’s late and much lamented afternoon show Disk Drive. Ms. Chamberland does a great job, but I sometimes hear Ms. Von Otter singing behind her.

Chantal has taken on a lot of history, and she represents it with elegance, taste and a certain mystery of her own that makes this album very listenable. The band behind her has some of the very top musicians, many of them classical players as well as Canadian classics in their own right: Rob Piltch, guitar; Robi Botos, piano; Denis Keldie, organ; Phil Dwyer, Perry and Paul White, saxophones; and Guido Basso, trumpet & flugelhorn. It doesn’t get any better than that.

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