Ambitious, uncategorizable and absolutely fearless second album from this trumpet player to the stars. She toured the world as part of the Burning Brass, the sizzling all-woman horn section that backed reggae legend Burning Spear on a couple of classic albums. She's also played with Natalie Merchant, Bonnie Raitt, Sarah McLachlan, Indigo Girls, Dennis Brown, Maxi Priest, NYC Reggae Collective, Rachelle Garniez, Metropolitan Klezmer and Isle of Klezbos.
Climb features another alluring set of original songs. Pam is joined by vocalist Dana Calitri on two thunderous hit ballads: "Angel of Adventure" and "Lose My Mind", which will give even Pop radio an emotional jolt.
Unlike so many 'jazz cats' these days, Pam is a songwriter first and foremost. Her tunes are memorable, catchy, and they tell a lot of stories.
Fleming can pull a crescendo out of thin air. She can also pull hard on your heartstrings. Pam plays with a pure, clear tone that recalls nothing less than the Prince of Darkness himself, Miles Davis, with equal subtlety, terseness and flair for the unexpected. Her first CD, 'Fearless Dreamer', was a lush, romantic adventure in sonic seduction. This one dares to go everywhere. 'Climb' comprises bouncy roots reggae, thoughtfully ambient 'soundtrack' melodies, pop songs, funk-infused grooves and a little late-night blues. Pam brings it all together 'fearlessly'!
The moody title track "CLIMB", was written right after the attacks on September 11th, 2001. This song is dedicated to all those who lost their lives, and all those who lost someone they love and miss.
Pamela Fleming - trumpet/flugelhorn/additional piano & synth/vocals (vocs on tracks 3, 4 & 10)
Allen Won - saxes/bass flute/alto flute
Jim West - piano/synth
Peter Calo - electric & acoustic guitar
Leo Traversa - bass
Todd Isler - drums/hadgini/hand drums
Dana Calitri - vocals (track 4 & 10)
By Alan Young - NY music reviewer
The album's opening track, "Say Goodbye" is less of a lament that the title might imply, floating in on an irresistible trumpet hook that returns in all the right places. (There has to be a cool cult favorite TV show in need of something this catchy.)
The next two tunes, "Slimy Business" and "Forward Sign" groove to a reggae beat; the first, a stylish vamp with adventurous, crescendoing solos for Allen Won's tenor and Fleming's trumpet. Next, Pam surprises us and sings on this conscious roots tune. As the lyrics go, "We need a forward sign in a backward time". No doubt.
"Angel of Adventure", featuring Dana Calitri and Pam on vocals, is a huge anthemic hit ballad honoring the strong women of the world. Allen Won's sax solo takes it over the edge. Powerful stuff!
The tender, mournful "More Than Anything" begins with a haunting piano melody paired off with the eerie slides of Leo Traversa's bass, winding through several gently thoughtful horn passages supported by Todd Isler's 'hadgini' (clay hand drum).
The reggae beat returns on the sly, ebullient "Straysnake". Anchored by Peter Calo's sexy wah-wah guitar, the tune builds to an triumphant climax, the band going full tilt, muted trumpet leading the dance with unselfconscious delight.
The next four songs work as a remembrance to 9/11, and is dedicated to those we lost on that terrible day. The dreamy, pensive "Early Morning" trumpet floating over an Afrobeat guitar loop; the haunting, foreboding title track "Climb"; Jim West's contemplative piano solo "Curious Stillness", leads us into the anguished pop song "Lose My Mind" also sung by Dana Calitri.
The CD concludes on an upbeat note with the playful "Lester's Blues" dedicated to the late trumpet player Lester Bowie, of Art Ensemble of Chicago fame.