MANILA, Philippines—There’s not much buzz about it, perhaps because the organizers have their hands too full to publicize the event. But the 2013 Philippine International Jazz Festival or Pijazz has been quietly ongoing since kicking off on Feb. 1, with an almost nightly schedule of performances at bars, malls and hotels—the idea of which is to make the music accessible to where the people are.
It’s quite unfortunate that we ourselves have been able to catch only one show so far, an intimate one that featured a trio—singer Rosanna Gaerlan, her husband and bassist Johnny Gaerlan, and guitarist Riki Gonzales—last Feb. 8 at St. Giles Hotel on Makati Avenue.
The highlight of that gig, aside from Rosanna’s natural charm while covering bluesy standards including “Love for Sale,” occurred when she proceeded to sing an original tune, “Stop It,” which she wrote to mark her 17th wedding anniversary with Johnny this year.
What a brilliantly crafted song it was, the lyrics in the first few stanzas sounding as if the speaker, Rosanna, had gotten tired of romance (“Stop holding my hands/stop kissing my lips”). But she turns flirty towards the end, asking Johnny to “Never ever stop it, even for a while.”
There’s still an interesting lineup of shows left, and we urge those thirsting for exciting, free-form music to head to the following venues on these dates:
The festival culminates with the appearance of the popular jazz duo Tuck & Patti on Feb. 22 and 23 at the Rockwell Tent in Makati.
The Feb. 22 show is presented by ABS-CBN and will feature Baihana, Jennifer Blair Bianco, Mindi Abair, and Tuck & Patti; the Feb. 23 date is billed as an international gala that will showcase Emcy Corteza of the Philippines, Yahel and Guy (Israel), Eldar Djangirov (Khyrgystan), and Tuck and Patti (USA) .
Wrapping up the fest on Feb 24, still at the Rockwell Tent, is PIJazz Night starring Tateng Katindig, Tess Salientes and Joyful Jazz, Megan Herrera, Richard Merk, Arthur Manuntag, Mon David, the Romy Posadas Trio, and introducing Sean Manuntag plus a surprise guest. Hosting the show is former radio DJ Brother Wayne of WK-FM fame.
To give readers an idea of the kind of musical background that Tuck & Patti have, here’s valuable information we gathered from the husband-and-wife team’s website:
Tuck: “One day when I was 16, a friend (Stuart Neimi) took me to his house and played records of Miles Davis, George Benson, Jimmy Smith, John Coltrane and numerous other jazz greats. This was an epiphany for me. Reinforced by my playing in my high school big band … and a parallel development in interest in jazz among the other players in the rock bands I played with, I immersed myself in jazz and figured out all I could.
“The same week I heard Jimi Hendrix’s first album for the first time. I remember being so dazzled by the sonic textures and so blown away by the power of his playing, that it actually had a reverse effect on me: I looked at his sound as unapproachable, and dived deeper into jazz. It was fully two years later when I started listening to him again and figuring out his songs and guitar style.
“My other major influence at that time was blues. In addition to the classic blues greats of B. B. King, Albert King and Freddie King, and rockers they inspired, such as Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Michael Bloomfield, there was a characteristic, lazy Tulsa blues style, perfected in the playing of guitarists like Steve Hickerson, Jim Byfield and Tommy Tripplehorn. It had elements of all the electric blues styles, with particular emphasis on the nuances of intricate bends and slides, perhaps derived somewhat from pedal steel sounds. There was no emphasis on playing fast, but considerable technique was necessary to accomplish some of the subtle moves these players used. Perhaps more than anything else this led me into exploring the infinite nuances of the single note.”
Patti: “I knew when I was 6 that I would always be a singer. My twin sister, cousin and I were on family vacation with my grandmother that summer, and I was lying in a field listening to all the sounds of nature and watching the clouds roll by. All of a sudden it became completely silent and a voice said to me, “You’ll sing and everything is going to be all right.” I just said, “OK.” Then all the sound started up again. I didn’t tell anyone about this for years, because it seemed so normal to me. I just assumed everyone had the same kind of experience.
“From the beginning I have listened to all styles of music: Gospel, classical, jazz, soul, folk, blues, rock, country, music of other cultures; everything. My first love as a jazz singer was and always will be Ella Fitzgerald, but Sarah Vaughn, Carmen McCrae, Nina Simone and countless others have affected me deeply, as well as Joni Mitchell, Laura Nyro and singers of all different styles. John Coltrane’s “A Love Surpreme” changed my life. Stevie Wonder set me on my songwriting path.
Miles Davis, Roland Kirk, Ima Sumac—the more influences I list, the more I can think of that I’m leaving out. I always say that once I hear it, it’s mine the next day. Al Jarreau’s “Live In Europe” album was a moment of truth for me; the moment I heard it I felt that he had raised the bar for all jazz singers, and knew I had to go back to the drawing board. He inspired me to start exploring mouth percussion. Of course Bobby McFerrin blew everyone’s mind. We were fortunate to hear and work with him a lot back when we were all playing the same small clubs in the Bay Area.”