This past weekend, Pinoy jazz superstars graced the World Youth Jazz Festival at the Jungle Land Theme Park in Bogor, near Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Filipino guests were jazz keyboard icon Boy Katindig and Baihana.
Baihana is a trio of talented women who are beginning to get noticed in international events. It is composed of Krina Cayabyab, Mel Torre, and Anna Graham, whose musical roots are firmly rooted in the chorale community of University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. The girls are backed up by Julius Lopez on bass, Tim Cada on guitar, and Karmi Santiago on drums (not very often do we see a rowdy girl drummer).
The “Baihana and Boy” tandem began in 2012 when Baihana won the Boy Katindig Jazz Songwriting Competition, with Krina also winning a Best Instrumentalist award. The tandem was invited to the previous World Youth Jazz Festival in Malaysia where, after their mesmerizing performance, the organizers made sure they would be at the Indonesian festival.
Baihana stands out because the girls compose 15 percent of their own music, and rearrange 80 percent. Original melodies, lyrics and arrangements are done mostly by Krina, daughter of popular Filipino music pillar Ryan Cayabyab. Mel and Anna also have their own inputs (shades of Lennon-McCartney-Starr). They would take a Charlie Parker or Miles Davis instrumental original, crunch it, “vocalize” it, and Filipinize it.
They make complex a capella harmonization seem easy, in the tradition of the Andrews Sisters of the prewar era. One favorite of audiences is “Isaw,” an original composition by Krina—a tribute to the junk food in the Diliman campus during their chorale days. Another is “2012 Medley,” an a capella mix of the most notorious songs of that year.
Young women doing their own jazz songs, and in Filipino? Definitely rare. They just might start a trend towards true Pinoy jazz.