Monday, October 30, 2006

Bossa Filipino

Bong Penera - A Samba Song Penny Rose TSP-5190 (Phil) (1974)

A SAMBA SONG is Bong Penera’s debut album. A Samba Song – as bright as the sunny weather of Manila, is one of the earliest compositions of Bong Penera with the Batucadas. This tune is further given an infectious flow with Brazilian guest Singer Maria Dulce Soares Da Silva singing it in her native language. Copyright is 1974 and produced by Penny Rose Production, the back cover has a short story about the album written by Ding Quejada.

When in 1968, Bong Penera organized a jazz ensemble called the "Shades of Latin" there were certain forces which collaborated to dismiss jazz as a popular idiom as no more than an afterthought of the Existential Satre confined to a numbered few. There was no market for jazz or particularly for the Brazilian bag. And yet in was during these times that Sergio Mendes and Brasil '66 took the South American fever with them to Intercon and Astrud Gilberto to Sheraton and Gary Burton to workshops. Sadly though, one had to be moneyed to see them, understandably, an elitist sect was the only target and type of audience that could patronize jazz. The "Shades of Latin" played at Carbungco’s in Quezon City and in private parties whose people knew Jobim, Badin Powell, Mendes & Walter Wanderley. Eventually, as commercial music surged higher in the charts and the vitality of bossa nova or jazz was getting down under such groups as the "Shades…." had to stop and give way to the trends. The parties soon disappeared including the Carbanco stint, soon it seemed to have been announced that jazz has gone and that the "Shades…" have vanished to obscurity.

But despite the obstacles and brave enough to cross the currents of commercialization, Penera organized the BATUCADA in 1973 and rapidly made it to the top, a rise which he himself did not expect and which music critics describe as "Phenomenal." Perhaps the audience has matured or the trends have changed but whichever reason, concert after concert, performance after performance, the Batucada drew raves and ovations. Bong first involved his Batucada into the jazz revival movement at the Extension with his good friends Lito Molina & Co. and what happened afterwards is history. Offers for nightclub dates, travel abroad and recordings, television performances, movies scores and concerts soon came, Today, Bong Penera & the Batucada is practically the only jazz group that actually made it while using the Brazilian idiom. But why Brazilian? One may ask. Or what accounts for the wide appeal of the Batucada? What brings the jazz buffs to pack at Pension Filipina, Bacchus Pub and Batik Inn?

Firstly, the Batucada is probably the only jazz group that could remain a trio and still retain the sound of a full band. It’s a tease in a way and its diminutive size has baffled many. It plays music that is versatile, universal and certainly rhythmic. Of all the elements that make up the art we know as music, the most fundamental is rhythm. The pulse, the beat—this is the foundation of it all, natural and inevitable, growing out of life itself. The cycle of night and day, the turning seasons of the years, the beat of one’s heart, the steady pace of one’s footsteps, these things are always with us, we are surrounded by rhythm. Thus explains Bong as he points out the particular adherence to the Brazillian idiom and as to why he chose the name "Batucada" which means, "beat." Their music is just it –pulsating, never giving too much or forcing too much, sometimes aggressive, sometimes funky, or soulful and seasoned with sophistication and a case definitely beyond their years. There are depth but not the kind that is confined to the intellectual alone, and there is the dynamic creativity evident in their performances: not one piece is repeated exactly the same as it was first played. There is always something new to look forward to. This is obviously the reason why Bong’s concerts have always been full packed: the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center had to drive away people for lack of room. The UP Los Banos Concert had to go on for three hours instead of the original one and half, or why the Phil-am life concert had to have a repeat.

The Brazillian syndrome with which Bong Pinera & the Batucada grew and permeated the local jazz scene is an act definitely arduous to follow. Their music rose out of pure talent and creativity devoid of any limitation so characteristic of our local jazz bands. Pong Penera is unique by and in himself. He is certainly an accomplished musician and one of the most gifted. He is of course many things too, being a poet, playwright, essayist, professor, painter all rolled into one. He plays guitar quite well and is gifted with an intimate, sensitive and poetic singing voice. His band aptly called the "Batucada" is also unique, Sonny Nabong plays bass, Nick Boogie is on percussion and Ding Poblete is on drums. And all these guys swing and sway with the Brazillian spirit you think that were imported from Rio. As you can see in this album. The girl who sings the Portuguese lyrics of the title tune is a Brazilian who goes by the name of Maria Dulce Soares de Silva, while Norina Ramirez does the English version. The fine supporting flute lines belong to Pete Canson.

This is Bong Penera’s first album (probably the first local jazz album) and he‘s naughty enough to pave packed only 10 songs. The feeling it leaves the listener is that of being "biten" and its goddamn great for a maiden LP.

1) A Samba Song
2) A Tear For Sunrise
3) Wordless
4) Longing
5) Rosita Maria
6) Beat Contemplation
7) Afraid To Be Known
8) And I Will Sing
9) Samba Madrugada
10) A Samba Song No. 2

Friday, October 27, 2006

Eclectic Elek Tricks

Elek Bacsik - Bossa Nova Fontana 460.112 TE (Fra) (1962)

Hungarian guitarist Elek Bacisk was a cousin of Django Reinhardt, but as Bacsik reminded Leonard Feather "we gypsies are all related!" and continued his tradition of blending swing and gypsy elements into a coherent, expressive jazz mode.

Bacsik initially studied classical violin and played gypsy songs in Budapest, then switched to jazz guitar. [In 1975 he recorded a violin album "Bird and Dizzy"]. As a teen, he recorded in a band with alto saxophonist Gabor Szabo and trumpeter Jozsef Quitter, then later toured Europe with Mihaly Tabanyi's band.

Bacsik moved to Paris in 1959, and through the early and mid-'60s recorded and played with visiting American musicians, among them Art Simmons, Quentin Jackson, Lou Bennett and Dizzy Gillespie. He also did sessions heading his own bands. Bacsik emigrated to America in 1966, and worked from 1967-1974 with Teresa Brewer before cutting his own sessions. He appeared at the 1974 Newport Jazz Festival and 1984 Olympic Games Jazz Festival in Los Angeles.

Elek was born in 1926 into a Hungarian gypsy family. He studied the violin at the Conservatory in Budapest but taught himself the guitar and went on to play jazz in Switzerland and France where he played with Dizzie Gillespie.

In 1962 he recorded a LP as leader "The Electric Guitar of the Eclectic Elek Bacsik". On this album his style displays a much closer affinity to Tal Farlow and Johnny Smith than the European gypsy genre where he overdubs a second, mainly rhythm guitar part.

In 1966 he moved to the USA but became submerged in the cabaret scene in Las Vegas. As Leonrad Feather puts it in his liner notes to "Eleck Bacsik: Bird & Dizzy" (Flying Dutchman) 75: "Bacsik was philosophical about the contrast of the matchless talent he displays here [on violin] and the total anonymity of his life in Las Vegas, where he has lived since 1967. "I spent a couple of years at the Riviera Hotel; moved around from one casino to another for a year; spent four years at the Hilton, and for the past year I've been at the Sahara". Asked whether he had ever had a chance to express himself in that so-called entertainment capital of the world, Bacsik promptly replied "No way!" I'd like to play some jazz club, and let the jazz audience hear me at some festivals".

In 1973 he began working with Bob Thiele and released two more LPs as well as playing at the Newport Festival. But just as this seemed to be bringing him to public attention once more he faded back into the shadows. He died in 1991 largely forgotten by the jazz community.

1) Desafinado ''Faits Pour S'aime''
2) Recado ''Loin De Fol''
3) Samba De Una Nota ''Chanson Sur Une Seule Note''
4) Stardust Bossa Nova

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Sound Clips?

Am playing around with various audio extras to offer u guys. You should hear a brief preliminary sample as this page loads (don't worry - it won't loop you to insanity!).
What say you? On-demand sound samples from forthcoming posts/regularly updated background music? All feedback gratefully received.
My regards to you all...


Filó Machado - Filó Chantecler 2.08.404.102 (1978)

Singer, composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger and producer Filó Machado was born in Ribeirão Preto (São Paulo) in 1951, on February 3rd. He started working as a singer in clubs when he was ten years old.

He has appeared with the most illustrious artists in international music such as Michel Legrand, Paul Mauriat, Jon Hendricks, Jane Duboc, Ivan Lins, Leny Andrade, Tito Madi, Joyce, Hermeto Paschoal, Johnny Alf, & Flora Purim to name but a fraction!

This, his debut album recorded in 1978 displays a variety of styles and is a hugely enjoyable listen boasting a handful of sultry & bouncy club tunes. In addition Aluizio Pontes & Roberto Sion add to the feel-good factor. Enjoy...

1) O Polvo
2) Viver E Sonhar
3) Tigre De Bengala
4) Ponta De Faca No Peito
5) Fatos Da Visao
6) Menino Diabo
7) Velha Cidade
8) Gira Sol
9) Pindorama
10) Ascensao

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Jayme Marques

Jayme Marques RCA SPL1-2453 Spain (1976)

Jayme Marques was born in Campo Grande, capital of Mato Grosso del Sur, Brazil on June 12th 1936. After moving to Sao Paulo at 20, he arrives in Europe and soon to be homeland of Spain where he becomes musical director of La Orquesta Orfeo.

Notable jazz guitarist, composer and singer, Jayme Marques has collaborated with the likes of Augusto Algueró, Pedro Iturralde, Tete Montoliu, Ramon Farran. and Paco de Lucía, with who he fused flamenco with Brazilian music.

He has accompanied in world-wide tours such artists as Jacques Brel and Maysa Matarazzo, as well as sessions with Thad Jones, Lionel Hampton & Pat Metheny. He was largely responsible in introducing Bossa Nova and Samba to Europe.

Marques maintains his residence in Spain and in 1965 he moves to Palma de Mallorca where he he resides for 20 years, collaborating with Serrat, Josefine Baker, Tom Jones and Matt Monro. Creator of La Balerar Big Band, Marques ends his stay on the island directing the spectacular “In Memorian A Duke Ellington”. He then moves to Madrid where he lives at the moment, collaborating with Spanish television TVE.

This rare LP was produced & recorded exclusively for TVE for the Saturday TV program “Directísimo” in 1976. Presenter Jose Maria Iñigo personally requested Jayme Marques perform in the program, for which the musician prepared the tunes that appear on this record.

With great musicians like Rafael Ferro (keyboards), Pedro Iturralde (tenor sax and flute), Tito Duarte (percussion) & Pepe Sanchez (drums), this is an eclectic treat for lovers of jazz funk, big band jazz & bossa!

1) In The Mood
2) Dark Orchid
3) Boato
4) This Way
5) Balada
6) Little Brown Jug
7) Summertime
8) Garota De Ipanema
9) My Friend Willie
10) U.S.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Jazz Q

Martin Kratochvil's Jazz Q - Tidings Supraphon 1115 2450 (1977)

Czechoslovak organist, pianist, composer and successful owner of the BONTON label was a pioneer in the use of electronic keyboards and computers in music. In 1965, he founded his first amateur jazz group, the Jazz Q, a member of which was the well known flutist Jiri Stivin. But Jiri left the formation in 1970, when Martin changed his musical orientation, heavily influenced by the likes of Chick Corea and John McLaughlin.

Along with Martin's keyboards the band's setup here comprised Lubos Andrst on guitar, Premysl Faukner on bass and Jaromir Helesic on drums. Here's a nice slice of Eastern European funky jazz-fusion, recorded in Praha/Czech Republic in 1977.

1) The Bed-Time Witch
2) Resurrection
3) Footprints
4) Allegory
5) Icicles
6) Weathercock
7) Diamonds
8) Happy-Go-Lucky

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Johnny Mandel - Harper Mainstream S-6078 (1966)

This is a different kind of cat named Harper... and excitement clings to him like a dame!

Private eye Lew Harper shows up early at the Southern California estate of Elain Sampson. She offers a drink, he declines, "I thought you were a detective," she says. "New type," Harper answers. Paul Newman memorably plays that new type in Harper, based on Ross MacDonald's The Moving Target. The first detective film in Newman's then 23-film career (he later reprised Harper in The Drowning Pool), Harper revitalized the genre. Newman's sleuth chews gum fast...and slips out of jams even faster as he unravels a twisted case of kidnapping and murder. William Goldman's clever screen-play throws quips and a parade of LA-LA-Land characters Harper's way. There's a woman of means (Lauren Bacall), a gun-toting attorney (Arthur Hill), a poolside gigolo (Robert Wagner), a boozy ex-starlet (Shelley Winters), a jazz junkie (Julie Harris), Harper's estranged wife (Janet Leigh) and the unholy order of the Temple of the Clouds (led by Strother Martin). Each may possess a clue. Or a bullet for Harper.

For me, this soundtrack has it all. A groovy main theme, a couple of cracking vocal numbers by Ruth Price and soul superstar Sam Fletcher, beautiful jazz ballads penned and played by Andre Previn and the obligatory mod-swinging crime tunes. A really great listen all the way through, the epitome of cool!

1) Harper (Main Title)
2) Quietly There
3) Magnus Cum Louder
4) Livin' Alone
5) Harper Does It Better
6) Mexican Breakfast
7) Sure As You're Born
8) Harper's Ferry
9) Temple Of The Clouds
10) Bel Air
11) Finale (Susan)