Fil-Am talents stun LA jazz enthusiastsBy Ruben V. Nepales
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LOS ANGELES—How and where do we begin writing about the stunning display of Filipino musical talent in last Saturday evening’s “Jazzmopolitan 2012” at the Ford Amphitheater in Hollywood?
It’s tough to find a starting point, following many highlights that made the audience stand up, cheer, dance and scream shouts of praise. But it was Mon David scatting and swooping from the lowest notes to the highest and back on Dave Brubeck’s “Blue Rondo a la Turk”—with Tateng Katindig on keyboards and Ner De Leon on sax—that defined the show’s excellence.
Earlier, at sunset, Mon began part two of the show with a haunting a cappella version of Levi Celerio and Restie Umali’s “Saan Ka Man Naroon.” Mon’s stirring baritone seemed to reverberate in the Hollywood Hills, which provided a dramatic backdrop to the stage at the outdoor venue.
He segued into a spirited version of Wayne Shorter’s “Footprints” with another talented sax player, Michael Paulo.
Louie Reyes’ undisputed jazz vocal skills shined with the nuanced way she rendered Pauline Wilson’s “Follow Your Road.” Louie’s crystal clear, heartfelt interpretation of how “we are all travelers living in a foreign land” made the lyrics resonate with the audience on a deeper level.
Michael, who also played sax on Pauline’s original version of “Follow…” as a solo artist in 1994, matched Louie’s intensity, note for thrilling note. Their spirited interplay was one of the show’s rousing moments.
Louie likewise mesmerized the audience on her first number, “I Got the Music in Me,” with Tateng and the band.
A few numbers back, Michael’s improvised interaction with Mon on John Lennon’s “Imagine” drew a rapturous response from the crowd.
Go for broke
In that night of show-stoppers, Becca Godinez’s go-for-broke, take-no-prisoners belting of “Cry Me a River” was one of the best performances we had seen from the singer. From a slow buildup that grew into a dramatic, forceful climax, Becca mined the complex vocal demands of the jilted lover blues ballad.
Becca’s first piece, the samba “O Pato/So Danco,” certainly did not prepare the audience for the powerful performance she mustered on “Cry Me…”
Amid this intense vocal display, Alma Silos was a refreshing respite with her takes on “Like a Lover” and “My One and Only Love.” These numbers made us want to see more of Alma, who marked her major return to the stage that night at the Ford after many years of absence. She is the daughter-in-law of Carina Afable.
Louie, Becca and Alma sang together on a crowd-pleasing Sergio Mendes medley.
Ner had his own moment in the spotlight with his impassioned playing of “Forever is Not Enough” and the memorable movie theme song from “Cinema Paradiso.”
The always topnotch Tateng provided a nice change of pace with “Bolivia.”
We had to leave the Ford before the show ended due to a prior commitment. We were told that even if the night’s momentum and energy level seemingly couldn’t go any higher, the show soared to greater heights with the performance of Michael on his solo numbers.
Applause to the following musicians, who are also Michael’s band members, for their stellar support of the featured performers: Fred Schreuders (guitars), Sergio Gonzalez (drums), Dave Inamine (bass) and Kimo Cornwell (keyboards), who is the musical director of the band Hiroshima.
Part one of the show was devoted to the “young ’uns”: singers Jaclyn Rose, Krystle Tugadi, VJ Rosales, Mitch Franco (son of former singer Gemma Franco, who is now based in the United States) and musician Abe Lagrimas, Jr. These promising singers are sure to find their niche and hopefully grow into performers with their own identities and styles, just like the veteran talents in part two.
Age-wise, Abe is a young Turk, but his versatility, depth of talent and experience make him a seasoned pro and a musically mature artist. As a drummer, he is vying for the top prize in the 25th Annual Thelonious Monk International Jazz Competition, the most prestigious of its kind, the semifinals of which will be held at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 22.
In the Saturday show, Abe focused on his ukulele skills via “Bluekulele” and “Spain.”
Backing up this next generation of Fil-Am jazz artists were Filipino-Japanese Dan Kaneyuki, (on sax; he played in the recent Faso concert, also at the Ford), Anthony Lopez (piano), Andy Waddell (guitar), Nicole Sequeira (bass), Sean Fitzpatrick (drums) and Matt Clores, Krystle’s guest keyboardist.
Giselle Tongi, who had flown to LA for another project, graciously consented to coemcee the show. Bravo to director Rex Sampaga, who put together this unforgettable concert, and to executive producer Ted Benito.
With the high benchmarks set on this show, we hope that this bit of news that we heard is not true—that it was the last “Jazzmopolitan.” This concert series should continue. Our outstanding music talents and promising ones deserve an outlet such as this, and more.
E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at http://twitter.com/nepalesruben.
Recent Stories:Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.