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"The Magnificent 5th Fil-Am JazzFest" from Prosy Delacruz with Asian Journal

"Every jazz musician leaves his thumbprint on the music he plays, much as the people of oneÆs culture would leave its imprint on the art form of another when cultures come together." - Angel Matias Pena, the Dalai Lama of Pinoy Jazz

According to 100 Masterpieces of Van Gogh Museum, "Van Gogh was charmed by DupreÆs use of colour in which he discerned a trace of magnificent symphony. That symphony is amazingly calculated and yet simple and infinitely deep as nature itself."

That same discernment may have prompted the audience to rise and shout out their collective bravos. The headliners are the Asian Jazz Divas (Charmaine Clamor in purple; Charito in yellow; and Sandra Viray in black) with Mon David who introduced the accompanying æband IhateÆ(Tateng Katindig and Eli Brougermann on the piano, Abe Lagrimas, Jr. on the vibraphone, ukelele and drums, and Dominick Thereaux on bass). Mon usually refers to Tateng as Tateng of the Universe, Ithink, to emphasize that TatengÆs piano skills are beyond world-class.What brought on our collective yells of non-stop bravos? Michael KonikÆs greetings of Magandang Gabi at Minamahal Kita earned the audienceÆs rapport. Some may have perceived him as bilingual. His attempt to speak in Tagalog, the language of the Pinoy musicians on stage, conveyed a tone of respect and inclusion -- an evolving imprint that all these performers are equal, and all are committed to perform their best for the Fil-Am Jazz Festival --itÆs fifth in Los Angeles and for the first time in New York and Canada. Sandra Viray, a jazz performer herself and former president of The Jazz Society of the Philippines, sang her opening verses: " It is a new life for me, It is a new dawn, You know how Ifeel." It was a happy beginning that transitioned to a more melancholic mood: "Where were you? There were tears that Ished. ItÆs all over now." Her next song, ThatÆs All, reminded us of a performer who was once described as having a "soulful, unique singing voice. Her ability to boldly turn any material that she confronted into her own music made her a superstar of her time."

Of course, IÆm referring to the great Billie Holiday. Sandra seemed to have done the same, with her self-assured manner, but imprinting the song with her own quality as she sang.

Bubba Jackson, an acclaimed disc jockey of 88.1 KJAZZ, was the festivalÆs emcee. He introduced Angelo Pizarro. Without losing a beat, Angelo strummed his guitar, playing both classical tunes and flamenco music. He performed as though he was a one-man sound chamber, quickly strumming his hands through all the vibrational ranges. His performance earned profuse praises from Bubba.

It was as though Al Di Meola was present on stage.

Al Di Meola rediscovered, after almost 20 years of acoustic guitar, his love of the electric guitar without denying newer influences. The result is a balancing act between volcanic electronic ecstasy and emotionally moving sound excursions, between fervent improvisations and intimate conversations, including many of his original compositions, and five Piazzolla tunes." Angelo gave it his all -- energy, being and talent were fused together into one impeccable performance. When he strummed his guitar, he had such strength and impact, as though he was an automaton. His hands strummed the entire range with precision -- not a single tune out of place nor out of synchrony.

His attentiveness to each note conveyed joy and oneness with his instrument. His music can be likened to the non-stop crackling and bursting of firecrackers. With speed, depth and force in frequency, the rhythms and sounds compelled us to dance.

One could lose himself in the rapturous sounds of his guitar. It calms oneÆs heart and soothes oneÆs soul.

Folks yelled more bravos for his soulful performance. He obliged by playing another piece.

If the stimulus package of the United States government had provision of a billion dollars for jazz festivals to tour around the United States, there would probably be a ten to twenty - factor multiplier to the American economy -- but with no violence of wars nor weapons.

The two-day sold-out event and 300 seats filled up, with each ticketholder spending an average of $100. CDs were also sold, sometimes three for each person.Ihave often wondered how fans could have an unquenchable thirst for jazz performances. Ionly understood after Iheard Mon DavidÆs footprints song, an original composition. His lyrics keep me company as Iimagine, wonder and write about life. "Throw it away/if it is meant for you/ it will come back." A seasoned performer, Mon DavidÆs latest originals include an ode to Manny Pacquiao and Efren Pe±aflorida.

His rendition of Balut Penoy elevates the humble and nocturnal balut vendor to a new stature.

I believe that his sense of originality captures the audience and brings them back year after year -- to the eight performersÆ stylized renditions, personalities and sparkling performances. No one overpowers, each of them plays a crucial role in the performances. But we should not forget that greatness reaps just rewards. Two legendary performers -- Annie Brazil in New York and Eddie Katindig Sr. in Los Angeles -- were afforded lifetime achievement awards, with Tateng Jr. receiving the award on behalf of his father."DonÆ t you just love their music? Has their music played off the charts yet?," Bubba asked. "Around the world, coming from the Philippines, you got it down pat, and you have Charito, the best Filipina jazz singer in Tokyo", he declared. When Abe Lagrimas Jr. played the ukelele, switched to the versapiano and then settled on the drums, you may presume there might be a diminution of talent and skills as he switched instruments. He simply behaved as a one-man, seamless band.

Bubba introduced the last performer of the night. "Jay Rich turned me onto her. She is a legend in jazz -- creating styles and a new genre called, "Jazzipino." He was referring to Charmaine Clamor, who charmed her audience with Hindi Kita Malilimutan, Pinay Sisters, Ako ay Pilipino, Celebrate the Pilipino Way, and Dahil Sa Iyo.

All were talented, some with bit more prowess than the rest, but all their collective souls, along with electrical explosion of their energies, used their whole beings, to unleash their collective inner peace into our hearts. They withheld nothing from this audience, and the audience responded by surrounding them and buying all their CDs.

The night could have ended here, but the audience lingered -- wanting to take in all the warmth and love that were generously given by these Fil-Am artists and forming an unbroken circle of love for these Fil-Am jazz performers.

What a night of magnificent peacemaking -- achieved through music, community-building, harmonic renditions and pride of our heritage!

To Sandra, Angelo, Abe, Eli, Dominick, Mon, Charito and Charmaine -- I offer you this quote from Vincent Van Gogh: "Love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is done well." Maraming Salamat po!

by Prosy Delacruz, for Asian Journal, DECEMBER 19, 2009

POSTED ON DECEMBER 19, 2009