Time does fly when you’re caught up in the music.
The audience didn’t seem to realize that the Gala Night of the 2013 Philippine International Jazz Fest held at the Rockwell Tent on Friday had been running almost five hours.
The gala, organized by ABS-CBN and hosted by Karen Pamintuan of Lifestyle Network, served as opening salvo for the three-day jazz fest. And if it was merely as a preview of what the next two nights would bring, then jazz aficionados, even music lovers in general, were in for a weekend Wonderland.
Friday’s show opened with upcoming Fil-Am crooner Jennifer Blair Bianco, who performed five all-original compositions. Her Norah Jones-meets-Sitti vocal style was complemented by a ukulele, which she played, Martin Rey Aviles’ acoustic guitar, and PawFlava Bondoc’s bongos, chimes, rain stick and mini maracas.
Admitting that she had been writing her own songs for just a year and a half, Jennifer nevertheless held the audience’s attention with “Were You the One,” “Wayfaring Stranger,” “Everything,” “Time Machine” and a composition she revealed was so new, “it doesn’t have a title yet.”
Next up was the bebop vocal trio Baihana, composed of University of the Philippines best buddies Melinda Torre (alto), Anna Achacoso (soprano 2) and Krina Cayabyab, daughter of iconic musical arranger and composer Ryan Cayabyab.
Baihana performed a wide range of pieces that showcased their harmonious talents. They started off with a cover of Louis Prima’s “Sing, Sing, Sing,” then drew applause with some serious scatting and rapping skills in an adaptation of Charlie Parker’s “Donna Lee” and Andrews Sisters’ “Hold Tight.”
Performing Katrina’s original composition, “Talk to Me,” the trio demonstrated why they were proclaimed Best Jazz Band in the 2012 Boy Katindig Songwriting and Jazz Band competition.
Baihana displayed musical versatility as it dished out “2012,” a mashup of past year’s hits—Adele’s “Rumor Has It,” Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know,” and Psy’s “Gangnam Style”—bebop style, a cappella at that, to the delight of a mostly upper-class audience.
They followed this up with another mashup, this time of Lady Gaga hits “Poker Face,” “Paparazzi,” “Telephone,” “Bad Romance” and “Born This Way.”
Their repertoire also revealed their youth—which would serve them well when they represent the Philippines in the annual World Youth Jazz Festival in Putrajaya, Malaysia, this May.
Tuck & Patti
After a brief intermission, it was time for several superstars of American jazz to come up on stage.
The duo of Tuck Andress and Patti Cathcart, more popularly—and fondly—known as Tuck & Patti, performed five of their most well-known collaborations: “Foggy Day,” “Heaven Down Here,” “Better Than Anything,” “My Romance” and “Time After Time.” Tuck performed a solo of Carlos Santana’s “Europa,” which displayed his talent, experience and technical mastery of his Gibson L5.
Patti’s full-bodied vocals held the audience in silence, lending deeper emotions into Tuck’s frenetic, playful string executions. In “Better Than Anything,” Patti even showed mean skills in scatting. In “My Romance,” Tuck and Patti used a few seconds of silence, eyes closed, to convey the song’s message.
A duo for more than 30 years, Tuck and Patti brings to jazz music the intimacy few artists can sincerely convey.
In an interview after the show, Patti said, “I don’t think we’ve changed our concepts so much. It gets deeper, because the longer we do it, the more we love it and the more we explore. As musicians, I think, you leave space. You leave silence. It’s beautiful.”
Tuck added, “When we’re performing, we’re just thinking about the music. But we know that our relationship really supports that. We were best friends first, before we got married.”
The standing ovation that the duo got after performing the Cyndi Lauper original “Time After Time” could be applause, in equal parts, for the artistry and music, and for their staying power as a married couple.
Smooth jazz saxophonist Mindi Abair closed the gala night with an 11-song set that sounded reminiscent of ’70s and ’80s “vinyl records.”
The 43-year-old (who looks 25) has toured and recorded with the likes of Backstreet Boys, Duran Duran, Mandy Moore, and even Adam Sandler. She is currently touring with Aerosmith.
With drummer Jamey Tate, lead guitarist Jay Gore, Pete Griffin on bass, and Greg Manning on keyboard, Mindi got the crowd to stand up and dance to her original compositions “Mojo,” “Smile,” “Bloom” and her very first radio hit, “Lucy’s”—in some segments setting aside the sax and singing. The free-flowing alcoholic drinks helped loosen the audience a bit.
Mindi also performed fresh covers of Eagle Eye Cherry’s “Save Tonight” and Ella Fitzgerald’s “Summertime,” which she dedicated to her hometown St. Petersburg, Florida and the Philippines.
“The minute I arrived in Manila, I was reminded of St. Petersburg,” she told the audience. “I love this place.”
For an encore, Mindi performed “The Joint,” which sessionists infused with hooks from Chic’s “Le Freak” and Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”
After that, Mindi set the sax down and shouted, “I’m gonna stay on the beach and eat my mangoes every morning!”