REVIEW

Chad Borja swings back

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BIG BAND GROOVE. Chad Borja savors the music at his recent gig in 19 East club. Pocholo Concepcion

The comeback trail for singer Chad Borja is full of exciting possibilities, judging from the kind of music he performed last week at 19 East in Sucat, Parañaque.

Backed by an eight-piece band, Borja spiced up his act with doses of swinging jazz, funk, R&B, rock and good old pop in a repertoire that covered Frank Sinatra standards, Van Morrison, Queen, Tower of Power, Chicago, Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF), Van Halen, Blood, Sweat and Tears—which had the audience looking at each other and smiling like they just discovered the fountain of youth.

Borja—who licked thyroid cancer 12 years ago and is releasing a new album soon—looked hale and hearty himself.

His vocals sounded well-oiled and oozed with confidence; his take on EWF’s “I’ll Write a Song For You,” in which his falsetto glided with a roller-coaster thrill, could make Philip Bailey blush.

But Borja also obliged with an original, “Kung Ako Lang Sana” (a track from his overlooked 1997 album “Show Me the Way”), and his newly recorded version of “Yakap,” a 1970s hit by Junior—indicating that he’s ready to plunge back into the pop mainstream.

The band, an indispensable part of Borja’s current incarnation, was a blast of funky exuberance. The horn section, composed of Mike Guevarra (sax), Romy Francisco (trumpet) and Ronnie Marqueses (trombone), blew away the worries of the day with its swaying melodies and cathartic solos.

Guitarist Noel Santiago was in a class of his own, cranking out street-wise riffs while handling the vocals on “Saturday in the Park.”

After hearing their superb renditions of “Moondance,” “You Can’t Fall Up” and “Diggin’ on James Brown,” it would be a sin to miss Borja and his band the next time around. Pocholo Concepcion

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