Cadence October, 2014


Argentinean writer Julio Cort¡zar’s main influences were Surrealism and the improvisatory aesthetic of jazz, particularly the music of Charlie “Bird” Parker.

Tots Tolentino, who likewise was inspired by Charlie Parker’s improvisational genius, was featured on August 26th in a collaboration sponsored by the Embassy of Spain and Instituto Cervantes with Ateneo de Manila University and the Department of European Languages of the University of the Philippines, in a presentation on the Ateneo campus of an important cultural event, “Queremos tanto a Julio”€, a jazz tribute to Argentinean writer Julio Cort¡zar (1914-1984).

The program featured a recital of his writings combined with a concert of jazz themes that inspired Cort¡zar, and performed by saxophonist Tots Tolentino. Although Cort¡zar wrote poetry, drama, and various non-fiction works, he is mainly praised for his novels and stories. A modern master of the short story, his work influenced an entire generation of Spanish-speaking readers and writers in the Americas and Europe. Cort¡zar’s main influences were Surrealism and the improvisatory aesthetic of jazz. This last interest is reflected in the story "El perseguidor" ("The Pursuer"), which he based on the life of Charlie Parker.

The Program:

Giant Steps (John Coltrane) Texto 1: La vuelta al dia en ochenta mundos

Lady, Be Good Texto 2: Conversaciones con Cort¡zar

Mahogany Hall Stomp Texto 3: El perseguidor

All the Things You Are (Charlie Parker) Texto 4: Continuidad de los parques

Autumn Leaves (Stan Getz) Texto 5: Rayuela (“Gregorovius suspir...”)

Body and Soul (Coleman Hawkins) Texto 6: Rayuela (“Y la Maga estaba llorando,...”)

Oscar’s Blues (Oscar Peterson) Texto 7: Rayuela (“-Es capaz de creer en el progreso del arte-...”)

Stack O’Lee Blues Texto 8: Aplastamiento de las gotas

Final piece --- Charlie Parker

Tots reported, “As you can see (from the program), I play between readings. The songs were selected based on the texts which mention either a jazz artist or the song. So I would do an interpretation after each reading. All solo sax. It felt good, like I was interpreting the text rather than just doing my own thing away from the literary work. Students from the Ateneo did the readings.”

On the question of whether the texts were in Spanish or English? Tots reported, “They had a second speaker doing the English read. So, yes, I could understand the texts.”€ “The references to the songs and artists were very clear and simple.”

How did the audience respond to the programmatic concept? “Very warm”
Tots said. “I think the solo sax added more of a dimension to the readings.”

Charlie Parker also played a major role in the career of Filipino musician Tots Tolentino. Having heard the great Charlie Parker at the age of 16, Tots decided that saxophone was to be his chosen instrument. He then pursued his career to become the most prestigious jazzman in the Philippines.

The concept of the presenting the juxtaposition of a major jazz figure, namely Mr. Tolentino, with a literary or cinematic work of art is not completely new

51 Cadence Magazine | OCT NOV DEC 2014

to Philippine audiences. The Goethe-Institut, for example, trail-blazed with their production of Manila’s second edition of its unique silent film festival, where silent films are accompanied by a live music score done by some of the country’s best groups. This iteration of the German Silent Film Festival featured classic Films by Fritz Lang, including the 1922 film, “Dr. Mabuse, the Gambler, Part I: A Portrait of Our Time”€ that is a portrait of German society at the depth of the postwar inflation of the 1920’s. It chronicles the adventures of Dr. Mabuse, a criminal who constantly reinvents his own identity in order to manipulate the destiny of others.

The film was accompanied by a jazz score by Tots Tolentino and his acclaimed jazz group Buhay on August 18, 2005.

Tots Tolentino’s first experience with creating and performing an accompaniment to a classic German silent film was with “Nosferatu”.

˜Blood is a juice of rarest quality...”

...and like the best improvisation, it’s only fresh once.

The line is not from “Nosferatu”€, but from Faust: the German silent film masterpiece by F. W. Murnau, one of a series with live music accompaniment arranged by Goethe Institut for Philippine viewers in August, 2004. Faust is a devoted village doctor who sells his soul to the devil Mephisto - at first for just a day, to help his village survive a plague Mephisto created, only to give it up for eternity after being seduced by pleasure. Guilt-ridden hero; seductive villain; riffs on public hypocrisy, empty appearances, and how having everything makes you appreciate nothing - for a movie released 78 years ago (1926), Faust is pretty up-to-date.

That night, BUHAY*--- the group led by saxophonist Tots Tolentino, with one album and various international festival appearances to their credit - played the accompaniment. Capturing mob hysteria with a jittery cascade of sax notes or getting funky for a big-deal wedding festival, BUHAY’s music brought out the modern undertones of the ancient tale - an attitude that’s definitely jazz, whatever inspires it and whoever plays it.

* “Life” in Tagalog

Some thoughts on that night’ s jazz, from Tots Tolentino himself:

Can you briefly describe how you chose/arranged the music you played Thursday night? How did you begin?

“I started by writing out the whole plot, scene by scene. Bawat (Each) scene may (has a) pre-set mood, so madaling mag (it is easy to) decide ng (the) instrumentation and rhythm concept. The whole thing was mostly improvisational, nothing written out. We worked it out during rehearsals. Yung maganda ditto (The good thing about this is) the actual music could change every performance dahil sa (because of the) improvisational aspect.”

Did you rehearse a lot for that night's show?

“We rehearsed twice. I wanted it fresh and uncontrived. Kaya makuha lang ang flow (So long as the flow is determined), bahala na mga boys sa tunog (it’s all up to the boys).”

Is this the first time you've accompanied a silent film? Would you do it


“First time, and definitely we would do it again.”

52 | Cadence Magazine | OCT NOV DEC 2014

Are there any other films you'd love to write scores for (silent or not)?

“Personally, I would love to write for cinema, given a chance. Maraming magagandang pelikula (There are many great films), kaso may mga score na ito (but these already have scores). Silent film mas (is more) challenging and at the same time mas (more) interesting kasi (because) you can do a lot due to the absence of the sound track.”

Who were the players for the evening?

“BUHAY is Wowee Posadas on keyboards, Meong Pacana on bass and Mar Dizon on drums. The press release had to go out and I couldn't confirm, at that time, the availability of BUHAY, so the release listed ‘Tots Tolentino & Friends.’€ I’m glad BUHAY did it, since we kind of border on the avant-garde. Shoot na shoot siya (Very compatible), in my humble opinion.”

Tagalog Translation by Mon Cabrera and Collis Davis.

Grateful thanks to Rocelle Aragon for her reporting on the screening of

“Nosferatu” and follow-up interview with Tots Tolentino. CHD


Once again, the Island of Penang comes alive with music with the 11th Edition of The Penang Island Jazz Festival, to be held from 4th to 7th December 2014! Performers for this yearâ’s “Jazz By The Beach”€ stage (Saturday, 6th and Sunday, 7th December) include Richard Bona Group, Carmen Souza, Crystal Bowersox, Laila Biali Trio, Monoswezi, CNIRBS, The Fresh Dixie Project, Jo Yeong Duk Trio, JazzHats & Ray featuring Man Kidal and others.

Supporting musical related activities held during the period of the festival are Workshops, Exhibitions, Sunrise @ TSG, After Hours Jazz Jam, Creative Malaysia Fringe Stages and the “Island Music Forum Sessions”. Some of the Speakers for this year’s “Island Forum Sessions” include Professor Tony Whyton (Director of the Salford Music Research Research Centre at University Salford UK) and Victor Kye (Assistant Artistic Director of Jarasum International Jazz Festival, Gwangju World Music Festival and Jarasum Rhythm & BBQ Festival).

The Penang Island Jazz Festival 2014 is supported by Malaysia Major Events, a division of Malaysia Convention & Exhibition Bureau, an agency under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture Malaysia; Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBA), Penang Global Tourism Sdn. Bhd., British Council, Goethe Institut, Japan Foundation, KK Jazz Festival, LBS Music World, Roland Asia Pacific, The Guitar Store, JS Music & Little Penang Street Market; with Venue Partners, Bayview Beach Resort, Hard Rock Hotel Penang, ParkRoyal Penang Resort, Tropical Spice Garden; Media Partners Homegrown Productions,, Lifestyle Asia, Rentak Sejuta.

For more information on the Festival activities, visit HYPERLINK "" Join us on HYPERLINK ""

53 | Cadence Magazine | OCT NOV DEC 2014

NOTE: This writer will be flying to Penang Island to report on the Festival in December, so please lookout for a review of events in next issue of Cadence.

Other Festival Dates

JAVA JAZZ FESTIVAL: “Paul Dankmeyer, Artistic Director of the Java Jazz Festival in Jakarta, announced that the next Java Jazz Festival dates are 6, 7 and 8 of March 2015. He added that the Singapore Jazz Festival will take place on the same weekend again as the Java Jazz Festival, and that both festivals have a partnership in programming artists.The Bali Live International Jazz Festival will happen again, in the week after Java Jazz Festival as was the case this year of 2014.”

                   Collis H. Davis, Jr.


   Remembering Charlie Haden, August 6, 1937 - July 11, 2014 with
   band at Town Hall, NYC circa 1980. Photo credit: Collis H. Davis, Jr.


© 2005-2016 Collis H. Davis, Jr.
All rights reserved.