A new solo album from Willy Cruz

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil () - August 19, 2002 - 12:00am
The name Willy Cruz certainly rings a lot of bells. Name a movie with an awardwinning score and chances are it is composed by Willy. Balweg, Sana’y Wala ng Wakas, Baby Tsina, Pahiram ng Isang Umaga. Name some of the greatest names in popular music and you can bet they have recorded a composition written or arranged by Willy or have had albums produced by him – Nora Aunor, Sharon Cuneta, Pilita Corrales, Hajji Alejandro, Nonoy Zuñiga, Zsa Zsa Padilla. Name some of the best-known Filipino songs of recent times and most of them are also by Willy. Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan, Bituing Walang Ningning, May Minamahal, Sana’y Wala ng Wakas, Kahit Na, Kumusta Ka, Doon Lang, Init Sa Magdamag, Never Ever Say Goodbye and many others.

Willy Cruz is a musical director, composer, arranger and record producer. What many people do not know though is that he is also a competent pianist. In fact, he started out playing the piano as a kid. Willy could have been a great pianist. He is the grandnephew of the famous pianist and composer Francisco Buencamino who provided music for motion pictures, composed zarzuelas, kundimans, tone poems and classical pieces like the famous Mayon Concerto.

There are many other singers and musicians in his family. Willy’s early lessons were with Rosario Licad, his aunt and the mother of world-famous pianist Cecile Licad. He later also studied under Marcelino Carluen.

Given his training, he could have easily become another Cecile. But somewhere between the piano lessons and his school work at the Ateneo University, Willy discovered pop music and whatever promise he had as a concert pianist instantly got sidetracked.

He became an arranger first for the Ambivalent Crowd and later for other artists. He went fulltime into the music business, initially as a writer of commercial jingles, then as a record producer and company executive, first for Vicor Music Corporation and then for Jem Recording and then as musical director for motion pictures. While going through these experiences he also developed into the composer of many hit songs that have become modern classics.

Despite all these successes though, Willy is still first and foremost a pianist. Though he occasionally performs in shows and concerts, his talent as a pianist has never been fully exploited. That is, until recently. Willy has recorded a collection of tunes for a new solo instrumental album. Titled Got to Believe in Magic, it is made up of some of the most romantic songs we have come to love over these past few years and Willy makes them sound truly special again. His interpretation shows the innate skill, the depth of expression that recaptures the magic of being in love through the hands of somebody who is indeed an extraordinary pianist.

Willy performed and arranged all of the songs in the album. Got to Believe in Magic, first popularized by David Pomeranz, leads the line-up. The others included are Jose Mari Chan’s Can We Just Stop and Talk a While, The Prayer, originally recorded by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli for the movie Search for Camelot, Ogie Alcasid’s Bakit Ngayon Ka Lang, Charles Aznavour’s She, Regine Velasquez’ current hit Dadalhin Kita, Rey Valera’s Pangako Sa ’yo, Kailangan Ko’y Ikaw, another hit by Regine, There You’ll Be, the theme from the motion picture Pearl Harbor by Faith Hill, Kung Mawawala Ka, another hit by Ogie.

Other tunes are Ikaw Lang ang Mamahalin, composed by Louie Ocampo and Joey Albert and recorded by Martin Nievera, Gary Valenciano’s Warrior is a Child, Side A’s Forevermore, the pop standard Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell and Willy’s own composition Sana’y Maghintay ang Walang Hanggan, which had been recorded by Zsa Zsa Padilla, Jun Polistico and Sharon Cuneta.

Magical is the best way to describe Willy’s album. At a time when bare-bellied pop divas beg to be masochists, when rappers cuss and boy bands blandly sing inane love songs, it is most refreshing to find the kind of music Willy makes in Got to Believe in Magic. If you want background music that inspires for every moment of your life, then this album is for you.

Make sure you treat yourself to this one.

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