CADENCE: April-2014 Issue

In late 2013, Collis Davis was appointed by the jazz journal, Cadence, as a contributor for the Philippines and ASEAN. Davis’s first piece appears in the April issue. FYI, his deadline for the next issue is June 10th.


It’s been about 10 years since I became aware of the Philippine jazz scene

thanks to two Senior Fulbright Fellowships that brought me and my wife

here, although I have been following jazz since the days Bob Rusch (founder of

Cadence) and I both attended a progressive, UN-oriented college preparatory

school in the late 1950s called The Stockbridge School in Interlaken, MA. I published

jazz reviews in the University of Wisconsin’s Daily Cardinal and the Chicago Daily

Defender as far back as the 1960s when I was at UW-Madison, and later contributed

photos of the New York jazz scene to Downbeat from 1979 until 1982.

After having decided to retire in the Philippines in 2001, I undertook a 70-min

documentary with Richie Quirino entitled, PINOY JAZZ: The Story of Jazz in

the Philippines. Ever since, I have supported the Philippine jazz scene, including

developing and maintaining the web site (with Richie Quirino) of the Jazz

Society of the Philippines, now undergoing a final revision.

Regionally speaking, PINOY JAZZ was screened at the Java Jazz Festival in

March, 2007 and later, I videotaped a 30-minute clip of the final jam session of a

well-known Singaporean club, Jazz at South Bridge, Jan. 3rd, 2010. That session

was an eye and ear-opener as I witnessed the international breadth of the jazz

scene in Singapore, including the creme-de-la-crme of expatriate musicians like

African-American bassist, Chris Smith; Filipino bassist, Johnny and vocalist

Rosanna Gaerlan ; harmonica player, Jens Bunge (German); American guitarist,

Rick Smith; vibes player, Susan Pasqual (nationality unknown); scat vocalist,

Greta Matasa (nationality unknown) ; and Singaporeans, pianist Les Haggard;

pianist Jeremy Monteiro ; alto saxophonist, Ivan; and vocalist, Bundiman

among others.

In the Philippines, the most recent jazz festival was the semi-annual CCP

(Cultural Center of the Philippines) International Jazz Festival which I have

written about at this URL: ReviewArchive9, Entitled,

Commentary on the 2nd CCP Jazz Festival, 2013, I discuss briefly the many

performers who appeared on the two principal stages within the CCP complex.

Outstanding among them was the American group, Blood Drum Spirit led by

royal Hartigan (also a former Fulbrighter to the Philippines) who promotes an

appreciation of West African percussion and musical culture, and Bob Aves, the

Filipino guitarist, composer and arranger who has broken new ground in developing

what he calls Philippine World Jazz, a fusion of modern jazz and traditional

gong culture.

In a recent Philippine Daily Inquirer article about Aves’s recent December, 2013

concert and release of his new recording, “Out of Tradition”, Bob said, “The

whole crux of our musical advocacy is about identity. Musical style is just a

vehicle, a vehicle that we’re most comfortable with, where we can best express

ourselves, our skills, our beliefs… and in my case, it’s jazz. But it seemed like

an awful waste of my creative life if all I did was copy American mainstream

jazz. I’ve always been a rebel, loved breaking rules and preferred to do things

my way—just the right mind-set if one was to create a new style of music. So,

developing our jazz identity was simply putting my rebellious attitude into

good use,” he says. See a review of Out of Tradition: http://www.allaboutjazz.



In spite of a dearth of gigs at home in the Philippines, Bob’s appearances

have been principally at the larger music festivals like the current Philippine

International Jazz and Arts Festival, including bringing his jazz to the global

audience through international events such as the Penang Island Jazz Festival

(Malaysia), Zhujiajiao Water Village Music Festival (Shanghai, China) and the

Jarasum Jazz Festival (Korea). Speaking of the Penang Island Jazz Festival, Paul

Augustin, Festival organizer, in discussing their first years in an article in All

About Jazz, Ian Patterson quoted Paul Augustin, “It's no easy task to choose

highlights of the first nine editions of PIJF: ‘For me, what's most memorable

are not so much the performances themselves but more managing to put them

on and seeing the reaction from the audience,’ says Augustin. ‘There are many

standout memories: the Bob Aves Jazz Group featuring Grace Nono—that was

a sort of world premier for his music, a fusion of Filipino traditional kulintang

music and contemporary jazz where he played the Philippine octavina guitar.’"

On an historical aside, "In the 1920s and 1930s we were under British rule,"

Augustin explains. "They commissioned 64 Filipino musicians to come to

Malaysia to be part of the Municipal bands in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and

Penang. The Philippines were renowned as good musicians. When the conflict

(WWII) was finished the British said they could stay in Malaya if they wanted.

More than 90% of them chose to stay in Malaya and they integrated into the

clubs and shows and they would set up bands.”

“Augustin said: ‘On a separate note, we have been busy these couple of years

putting together a couple of exhibitions on the "Penang's Popular Music of the

1940s to 1960s" and have just last year been commissioned to put together a

"Coffee Table" Book based on the exhibitions. In the process of the research, we

have sort of "uncovered" some information on the role that Filipinos played

during that period - names such as Solianos, Villinguez, Montanos, Geronimos,

Ancianos, Franciscos and others. Many of them were in Penang in the 1930s and

have descendants today all over Malaysia. That's another story in it altogether!’”

Pinoy Guitarist and group, Johnny Alegre Affinity, just released “Stories” on

MCA, Universal Music Group, featuring re-issues of compositions previously

released on albums such as Jazzhound (2005) and Eastern Skies (2007). Some of

the pieces include the Global Studio Orchestra conducted by Gerard Salonga,

brother of Lea Salonga, KLD, singer and actress who starred in the lead role

of Kim in the musical Miss Saigon, for which she won the Olivier, Tony,

Drama Desk, Outer Critics and Theatre World awards. Arrangements and

orchestrations were by Ria Villena-Osorio, daughter of the renown leader of

the Latin Jazz Orchestra, Mel Villena. The quintet personnel include Colby dela

Calzada (bass), New York-based Koko Bermejo (drums), Elhmir Saison (piano)

and nephew of the late pianist virtuoso, Bobby Enriquez. Alegre said he did

significant re-mixes on these numbers, including elaborate packaging.

As this article goes to press, the Philippine International Jazz Festival, now in

its 9th year, gets underway, running from February 14th through March 16th.

PIJazzFest is now unprecedently the longest-running jazz event in Asia. And

it’s the largest jazz festival in the Philippines and a member of the Asian Jazz

Festival Organization, whose other members include Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur,

Dubai, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and India. “Through cultural exchange,

sponsorship, grant organizations and Embassy support, PIJazzfest presents

Filipino and international performers over multiple days of simultaneous

“jazztivities”, such as campus workshops, bar tours, mall shows, cultural

performances and concerts. This year, 2014, marks the first Artist Exchange

between PIJazzfest and The Java Jazz Festival in Indonesia and The Timbre

Group in Singapore.“ Sandra Viray-Lim, executive director, said she will be

arranging exchanges with Paul Augustin of the Penang Island Jazz Festival once

airline support for musicians is secured.

Headlining PIJazzFest includes international talents such as the esteemed

American guitar virtuoso, John McLaughlin and his 4th dimension, The Art of

Tree (Indonesia), Pwerza Azul with Bong Sotto (Australia), Roy Zedras (South

Africa), Israeli artist, Paula Valstein, Flippin’ Soul Stompers (USA), Stuart

Elster (USA), Philippine Diasporean artists, the ever-versatile Abe Lagrimas Jr.

of Los Angeles, and Johnny and Rosanna Gaerlan jazz duo of Singapore, and

many outstanding local stars such as Bob Aves, Mishka Adams, Johnny Alegre,

Colby de la Calzada, Tony Lipana, Alvin Cornista, Dave Harder, Mar Dizon,

Arthur Manuntag & Romy Posadas Trio, Reggie Padilla, The Executives Band

and Ms. Annie Brazil in concert with the awarding of the PIJazzfest Lifetime

Achievement Award. Additionally, there are thematic musical events featuring

Brazilian Samba featuring Eileen Sison and Guarana and others in this vein,

Blues sessions, and various workshops at local universities and cultural centers.

Many of the events are free and sessions at local bars charge a nominal fee that

usually includes a one drink, others have a no cover/no minimum charge.

Another concurrent jazz event unrelated to the PI Jazz Festival is a cross

cultural collaboration, “Euro-Pinoy Jazz Concerts” presented by the European

Union National Institutes for Culture-Philippines (Eunic) consisting of a

4-day workshop leading to a two-concert performance of an original jazz

repertoire developed during the workshop phase. Cross-cultural artists include

Vietnamese-French guitarist, Nguyen Le; Spanish jazz percussionist, Tino di

Geraldo; German jazz singer, Michael Schiefel; Italian bassist, Furio di Castri;

and, Filipino saxophonist, Tots Tolentino.


Although the Java Jazz Festival spans only 3 days, February 28th, 1 and 2

of March, 2014 at Jakarta International Expo (JIExpo), it is, nevertheless,

a gigantic event. The number of confirmed International artists is 45, and

Indonesian artists is 90. These are huge numbers to fit into a 4:45pm to 00:45 am

performance schedule utilizing 14 stages. Paul Dankmeyer, Chief Program and

Artistic Director, said, “We have moved to Prj JiExpo Kemayoran since 2010 and

will celebrate our 10th anniversary of Java Jazz Festival and 5 years at Prj JiExpo



Aside from the numerous international jazz and pop stars, “Many Brazilians

are coming to Java Jazz to celebrate Brazilian music which Indonesians love”,

according to Dankmeyer. From Rio de Janeiro : Ivan Lins & Group, Paula

Morelenbaum & Jaques Morelenbaum, Tony Barreto, Joao Sabia, Thais Motta

& Marvio Ciribelli, Thiagu Gentil & Robertinho DaSilva, all of whom are

flying in only to play Java Jazz 2014.


In a shrewd move to enhance Indonesia’s tourism agenda, Java Jazz Festival is

working together with Bali Live International Jazz Festival which will be held

on the 8th of March, so many visitors can extend their visit and go to Bali and

can enjoy seeing Java Jazz performers such as Earth Wind & Fire Experience,

Tanua Maria, Incognito and others.


Speaking of collaboration projects, Java Jazz Festival has engaged the

Scandinavian All Stars, Magnus Lindgren (Sweden), Nils Petter Molvaer

(Norway), Timo Lassy (Finland) and Soren Bebe (Denmark), who will play

together and collaborate with an Indonesian rhythm section. And if the above

lineup wasn’t enough, JJF has invited the United States Air Force Band as its

latest addition to the program.

Tickets are $113 for a 3-day pass (or $37/day). Headliners, on Friday Jamie

Cullum, costs an additional $24, and on Sunday, Natalie Cole costs an

additional $19. Hotels range in cost and quality, but there are some for $30-40/

night for the budget-minded visitors. Check out the JJF web site at: http://www.


Diaspora: San Francsico: Myrna and Carlos Zialcita, founders of the SF Filipino-

American Jazz Festival stated on their website: “In the Philippines, as well as in

the United States, Pinoy Jazz has been described as a "process of self-discovery"

of the various influences that Pinoy musicians are subjected to – not only

from outside but also from inside their own country and culture. Their stated

purpose is to present jazz as promulgated by Filipinos within the Diaspora as

well as those living in the Philippines. Recent events have included BLUES FOR



November 30, 2013


Los Angeles: JazzPhil-USA, inspired by the Jazz Society of the Philippines,

presents talented jazz artists of Filipino descent – not only to the many Filipino-

American communities throughout the United States but also to mainstream

American jazz audiences. JazzPhil-USA supports the academic and professional

development of Filipino-American jazz artists, and fosters camaraderie among

musicians and fans of every persuasion, bound in a common appreciation of

jazz. The organization pursues the establishment of local chapters in cities and

states where there is a significant Filipino-American population.

9th Annual Filipino American Jazz & World Music Festival “Jazz for the

Philippines”, Dec 20, 2013 featured many of the top Filipino ex-pat players

residing in the US, but principally on the West Coast. Among them, were Jon

Irabagon, Concord recording artist & 2008 Winner of the Thelonious Monk

International Sax Competition with Abe Lagrimas, Jr, 2012 Thelonious Monk

International Drums Competition Semifinalist, Victor Noriega, piano, and JP

Maramba, bass. Lifetime Achievement Awardee: Winston Raval performed

his original music with his seven-piece band, The Vanishing Tribe, including

Winston Raval, Rob Kohler, Tsugumi Shikano, Raymond Bambao, Jonathan

Bautista and Claude Baria.

By Collis Davis

April May June 2014 | Cadence Magazine | 53



OutofTraditionCovr22102I can't tell you much about BOB AVEIS [gtr] other than he lives in the Philippines, and has produced a CD called OUT OF THE TRADITION [taomusic no#15] on which he is joined by Dix Lucero-sax, Nicco Rivera-kbds, SamidaTato-chant on one cut, Reni Angles-piano on one cut, on a program of originals/arrangements by Mr. Aves. Aves does a remarkable job in fusing indigenous [I assume] music and rhythms with jazz one minute, and then you are listening to World music, and then, without awareness, you have moved to pure rhythmic jazz. Mr. Aves is a hell of a guitar player and buoys this music beginning to end. There are moments that hold my interest little, for instance, I could do without the chanting, but it passes and I find myself caught up in the rhythms and guitar lines. Aves even manages to incorporate electric piano and synth in an appropriate manner; something different—viva la difference.

IrabagonAlbum02JON IRABAGON[sax] is a reasonably new force to be reckoned with, as he sounds comfortable in a variety of jazz formats/genres and plays with a directness that suggests a reserve of ideas. On IT TAKES ALL KINDS [Jazzwerkstadt 139] he leads [a fitting word here] the rhythm force of Mark Helias [bass] and Barry Altschul [dms] in a 6/8/13 concert of originals. Listening one gets the feeling that Mr.Irabagon could tell stories and forge directions with his sax with no end, as he effortlessly shifts from one idea to the next, cliche free and in an open ended way. The rhythm is easily up to the task of support,shadowing and on occasion stepping out on their own, and in the case of Mr. Altschul with both grace and humor. Thinking persons free jazz of the highest order.

Incidently, Jon Irabagon, of Filipino heritage out of Chicago, has already recorded an album for Cadence Jazz Records, soon to be released, according to Bob Rusch. CHDavis


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