Born: December 1, 1965 Primary Instrument: Vocal
Chantal Chamberland. The very name has a lovely musical lilt to it, so perhaps music has always been the destiny of this superbly skilled jazz vocalist. It has certainly always been the life-long passion of the Montreal-raised, Dundas, Ontario-based, Chamberland, and her new CD, The Other Woman, represents the full blossoming of her prodigious artistic talent.
Out now via Universal Music Canada, the disc is Chantal’s fourth solo release. Her previous albums (2002’s This Is Our Time, 2004’s Serendipity Street and 2005’s Dripping Indigo ) served notice that this was an artist to watch. They received radio play across Canada, notched rave reviews, and brought Chantal a loyal fan base in the U.S..
The Other Woman definitely ups the ante. The mandate of a great voice tackling great songs remains, while Chamberland’s decision to take a different approach to the recording pays off handsomely. She recruited acclaimed producer Danny Greenspoon (Jane Bunnett,Sophie Milman, Great Big Sea) and an A-list of Toronto jazz musicians for the sessions, and she is justifiably proud of the results.
“I wanted to bring in a little more variety in terms of the instrumentation and have more of a big band feel,” Chantal explains. “As an artist, musically and vocally, I have to say this is my best album. It showcases my voice the way it should be done, and it showcases the musicians without taking over the vocals.”
Chamberland and Greenspoon set up shop in The Canterbury Music Company in Toronto, alongside such stellar players as drummer Mark McLean, bassist Marc Rogers, guitarist Rob Piltch, pianist Robi Botos, organist Dennis Keldie, cellist Kevin Fox and horn players Phil Dwyer, Perry and Paul White, Guido Basso, William Carn, and Steve McDade. -
There, as Chantal recalls, “Danny really challenged me. I’ve never been pushed that much before but what a difference it made overall. I refer to him as coach, one saying ‘you can do it, try one more time.’ To have a real connection with your producer makes a huge difference. I always compare it to being an actor and working with a great director.”
On The Other Woman, the compelling results are equivalent to a Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese collaboration. It always helps to have a top-notch script, and Chamberland shows a deft touch in her song selections. Such much-loved jazz standards as “On The Street Where You Live” and “In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning” nestle snugly alongside French songs (“La Mer” and the bilingual “I Wish You Love”) and contemporary tunes like Sharon Washington’s “Little Wonder,” Sade’s “By Your Side,” and “All I Ask Of You” (from Phantom Of The Opera).
The result is a refreshing diversity of tempo and tone, and Chantal’s vocals move from sultry and soulful to bluesy and brassy with graceful ease. No vocal histrionics here, just a subtle yet always sincere take on material that resonates in her heart and soul.
“A slower song has to be one that really moves me,” says the singer. “For instance, Nina Simone’s ‘The Other Woman’ is a sad song with a beautiful melody, and I just knew I could pull it off. I thought it was important to have fun songs on this album too, so we have faster fun stuff like ‘I’m A Woman’ and Peggy Lee’s ‘Alright, Okay, You Win.’”
Chantal’s stylistic eclecticism comes naturally. She cut her musical teeth singing rock in Montreal bars (while still underage), then gained prominence in an acoustic folk-rock duo that shared stages with the likes of Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. After taking a break to reassess her musical direction, she began singing jazz in fine dining establishments in Ontario.
“I was raised by my grandmother and aunt and they always had music in the house,” Chamberland recalls. “Big band stuff, Ella Fitzgerald, and French music by Jacques Brel and Edith Piaf. Maybe it was stuck in my subconscious from my teen years, because I later developed a really big craving for vocal jazz.” Encouraged by the response from her audiences, Chantal recorded This Is Our Time, and the positive reaction it received confirmed she was on the right track. A triumphant 2004 appearance at the Montreal International Jazz Festival showed that this charming entertainer was equally at ease in front of a crowd of 100,000 as in an intimate supper club, and there has been no looking back.
A 2006 return to the Montreal festival was another hit, and La Belle Province has proven a very welcoming market for the fluently bilingual Chamberland. Closer to her current home, Chamberland won a People’s Choice trophy at the Hamilton Music Awards in 2004, while Toronto shows at Hugh’s Room and the 2008 Toronto Jazz Festival have demonstrated that, in a city crammed with female jazz singers, there is always room for one this talented.
With the release of The Other Woman, look for the ascent of this rising star to accelerate. Prepare to be seduced.
One of the best interperters of jazz today
Chantal Chamberland's The Other Woman, makes you fall in love with jazz all over again
- Jazz on the Rocks - 92.5FM
A phenomenal voice, romantic love songs, touching renditions..... A fantastic release from this amazingly talented woman.
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