by Kenneth Gonzalez
On October 26th, fans of jazz vocalist Charito, were treated to a wonderful performance at the Catalina Jazz Club in Hollywood, California. Rather than being part of a scheduled world tour, this show (and the other shows currently planned) is the result of being in the right place at the right time, all of which have been made possible, because of an album project that she is involved with locally.
Charito’s backing band was comprised of Alain Brunet (Trumpet), Alain Mayeras (Piano), Prince Lawsha (Drums) and Gary Brown (Upright Bass). They opened the show with the Charles Friday tune “I Wish You Love,” and did an excellent job. Between Brunet’s tasty lines and technique, Mayeras’s spacious piano chops and the great groove built by Lawsha and Brown, they set the stage for what was to follow.
Lawsha introduced ;Charito and she arrived on stage in an eye catching, elegant ruby red gown. To those unfamiliar with Charito, anyone who might be tempted to think that her sweet and soft demeano would translate into her vocal performance, they would be making a huge mistake. When she starts to sing, it is clear that she is a force to be reckoned with.
Throughout the evening, Charito consistently demonstrated that her vocal chops are substantial. She brings to her craft a wide vocal range and a finely tuned sense of just the right mix of expression and dynamics to have a song come alive. In addition, her delivery and performance skills are noteworthy, as she brought a high degree of emotion and expression to the set. She was working the room as if she were playing to a packed house in a large venue instead of a more intimate jazz club.
For her opening song “Watch What Happens,” Charito delivered a sweet and soulful vocal performance and was completely engrossed in the song. On her next song selection “Summer Me, Winter Me,” she lit up the club with her emotionally gripping, and at times intense delivery. The crowd reaction and applause at the end of the song was great and a clear sign that the audience was fully engaged.
During “Watch What Happens,” she also clearly established herself as the bandleader. As an artist, she listens intently, knows what she wants and does not stop until she gets it. Whether it is providing direction and cues for the band or stopping the action and putting in a correction (as she did at the start of “Lullaby of Birdland”), her attention to detail and uncompromising commitment to quality speak volumes about her as an artist. The results really do speak for themselves, as after the correction, their delivery on “Lullaby of Birdland,” was an absolute scorcher!
On “I’ll Wait For You,” Charito delivered a robust vocal performance, and one of the noteworthy things about it was her scatting, as Charito and Brunet excelled in exchanging scat and they were playful. Charito graced the audience with her scat singing once again, this time with “Every Day I Have The Blues,” and “Caravan.” With these songs, she used her voice as an instrument and demonstrated a high degree of precision and clarity that some singers can only wish to attain.
“Every Day I Have The Blues,” was a real treat and a slight departure from the rest of the content. Charito recalled for the audience how, when Lawsha and she met for the first time, it was with Lawsha singing and this tune presented an opportunity for a fun duet. The interplay between Charito and Lawsha was refreshing.
As for the closing number “Caravan,” the entire band came together and delivered a solid performance that kept up the intensity in the building, until the very end. It was a very fitting piece to close the evening with and the audience acknowledged their collective accomplishment with a rousing round of applause.
Charito is the kind of jazz vocalist that even people who do not like jazz would enjoy. Her vocal talent, enthusiasm and appreciation of the material make for a potent combination that is worth making a special effort to experience. If you don’t know Charito yet, get a copy of her latest album Watch What Happens and just watch what happens! Then find a way to see her live, because you will be glad you did!