Speaking the common language of jazz, happily | Inquirer Entertainment

Speaking the common language of jazz, happily

12:10 AM March 03, 2014

THE EURO Pinoy Jazz Concerts could be the start of further collaborations.

E pluribus jazz.

It seemed oddly fitting that the meet happened just outside the walls of historic Intramuros, where men of disparate cultures met many times before, under less-fortunate circumstances.


FILIPINO saxophonist Tots Tolentino

German vocalist Michael Schiefel, French guitarist Nguyen Le, Spanish percussionist Tino de Geraldo, Italian bass player Furio di Castri and Filipino saxophonist Tots Tolentino fused individual artistry together to speak the common language of jazz on Feb. 22 before a highly appreciative audience at Plaza Maestranza by the Pasig River in Intramuros, Manila.

It was the second of the  two-night 2014 Euro-Pinoy Jazz Concerts, an offering of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (Eunic) Philippines, the EU Delegation to the Philippines, the Intramuros Administration and the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.


The old Walled City’s storied battlements were mute witnesses to what is hoped to be the prelude to an annual cross-cultural celebration of contemporary jazz music by top-shelf European and Filipino jazz artists.



Though not as popular with local listeners as their American counterparts, the European guest artists are all accomplished, highly respected musicians in the world jazz scene.

GERMAN vocalist Michael Schiefel

Jazz guitar and guitar synthesizer exponent Le has recorded numerous albums both as solo artist and session man and has played with notables Peter Erskine, Randy Brecker and Marc Johnson.

Spaniard De Geraldo is likewise a recording artist who has collaborated with heavies such as Chick Corea and Pat Metheny. He toured with David Lindley and the reinvented Jackson

Browne for five years.


Bassist Di Castri has been one of Italy’s leading bass players since the 1970s. He has shared the stage with such greats as Chet Baker and Lee Konitz.

Berliner Schiefel is a university jazz vocal professor with a number of solo albums, as well as with the German group Jazz Indeed, to his credit.

ITALIAN bass player Furio di Castri

And if you don’t know who Tolentino is, you’re not reading this.



Playing together for the first time, the international quintet had only four days to prepare—“No biggie, really, with the caliber of these guys,” Tolentino told the Inquirer later. But the group whipped up a two-hour set of album-quality original pieces that had the equally cosmopolitan crowd smiling and tapping their feet from the first note.

With individual contributions from each artist, compositions ranged from jumping neo-bop to slow-haunting melodies led by Tolentino on clarinet, to straight-ahead early fusion jazz with a bit of axe-shredding by Le; some had several movements, others with just a trace of classical, traditional European folk music, even Latin influences, plus the usual pieces to highlight individual virtuosity.

SPANISH percussionist Tino de Geraldo

Scat-meister Schiefel was a fifth instrument almost throughout the performance, delighting the audience with his McFerrin-like vocal improvisations and Joe Cocker-ish stage antics as he challenged and dueled with the other four instruments in turns, even De Geraldo’s drums.

Shared high


Eloquent as they were with their instruments on stage, the artists groped for words to describe the experience when we talked with them backstage, relying mostly on Cheshire cat grins

and excited, if vague, hand gestures to convey their shared high.

“Fantastic!” Tolentino finally blurted out. “No words can describe the feeling,” he added.

FRENCH guitarist Nguyen Le.

The Europeans acknowledged how great the audience members were, and signified their readiness to come back as soon as the next opportunity presents itself. “Hopefully, the next step is to take this to other countries,” said Tolentino. “[The organizers] are still brainstorming but at least we’ve made the first step, the hardest part…the group is already together.”

Photos by Arnold Almacen

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TAGS: 2014 Euro-Pinoy Jazz Concerts, Entertainment, European Union, Jazz, Music
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