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July 25, 2006

Group melds a cappella and jazz like clockwork


Marin Independent Journal (CA):

It began innocently enough. According to Angela Doctor, a few singers from the Grammy-nominated Pacific Mozart Ensemble said to each other, "Hey, we should sing some stuff together; it would be kind of fun." So, a half-dozen friends - some of whom had known each other since high school 30 years earlier - met on an occasional basis to sing for fun. Along the way, they coalesced into Clockwork, an a cappella ensemble specializing in jazz. They'll take the stage at 8 p.m. Saturday at San Geronimo Valley Community Center.

"At one point about three years ago, we focused and said, 'This is what we want to do,'" Doctor explains. "We decided what our strong points were. One of those is really complicated jazz music - stuff that's usually done by instruments." The five musicians - one had dropped out, leaving Doctor as the only woman in the group - began making a name for themselves, not just for their unique repertoire but also for their precision performance. They were invited to enter the local competition of the A Cappella Harmony Sweepstakes, a national contest for vocal groups unaccompanied by musical instruments except percussion. "We decided to do it because it was such a great audience," Doctor says.

But they fully expected to be odd-man-out since most a cappella groups sing everything but jazz. To their surprise, they won. When they went on to the finals and took second place, Doctor says, "It truly acted as a springboard."

Since then, the quintet has performed in venues from Sonora to Santa Cruz, including the famous Freight & Salvage in Berkeley, at various jazz festivals, for San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and more than once singing the national anthem at a Giants game. They also recently released a CD. This year, Clockwork returned to the A Cappella Harmony Sweepstakes and won again. Not only did they take first place at the regional competition but they received the Audience Favorite Award.

Part of the reason for Clockwork's popularity is that the musicians do their own arranging. "We like to arrange our songs in ways that are not transcriptive, taking songs that are not normally a cappella and doing them in our own way," Doctor says. Marin music lovers can hear this unique group singing everything from bebop to "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" in great acoustics Saturday. But don't expect to hear Manhattan Transfer, Doctor warns. "We do jazz," she says, "but we do it our own way. We're not copying someone else's version."

We are all big fans of Clockwork and are pleased to have them on our record label. Singer Eric Freeman has actually won the SF Sweeps regionals 4 times with 4 different groups over the many years he has been singing.

Listen to Rhode Island Is Famous For You

Posted by acapnews at July 25, 2006 9:50 PM