Smooth jazz from Affinity

Although the skill and artistry of the Filipino jazz musician compares favorably with the best from other parts of the world, I still believe jazz music does not go well with the Filipino soul. It is like milk or cream eaten with mangoes. People combine the two all the time, think ice cream, and the mixture is delicious. But beware, because a bum stomach will haunt you for days.

So finding a Filipino band that totally approximates the jazz ethic in its pure form, Hurray! No fusion! It’s certainly something to rejoice about. This is because these musicians chose to do jazz over other more lucrative forms and will now be bucking trends all their lives. That means losing income and the opportunity to become another George Canseco or Ryan Cayabyab. But as they say, jazz does things like that. Once you choose to immerse yourself in it, there is no guarantee you will ever get out.

Of course, this is not totally the case with the members of Johnny Alegre’s Affinity. They play jazz but producers can still call on them to provide that jazzy feel in their recordings once in a while. Remember these guys also have to earn a living. That is why Tots Tolentino plays the sax for Nonoy Zuñiga’s duet of When I Fall in Love with Regine Velasquez or why you can also find the names of Johnny Alegre, guitarist, Colby de la Calzada, bassist, Ehlmir Saison, pianist and Koko Bermejo, drummer on the credits of numerous albums by local artists.

Together as Affinity though, they only dish out unadulterated jazz. This is what the Affinity album contains. This comes to us from Candid Records, which I like to describe as the little label that could because it has been giving artists like Mishka Adams and Affinity, whom the bigger labels might not want to touch, the chance to make their music heard.

, with its all-original content, mostly composed by Alegre, is a brave effort. There are no standards that seduce the memory here. The best it has going for it are the flowing melodies that tease the imagination and the cohesive musicality of the members. Jazz is all about musicians second guessing the music playing in their minds and anybody unable to keep up with the rest of the band had better pack their bags to join the singing champions tour. Affinity stays behind.

Affinity is set to perform at the Third Manila Jazz Festival on June 3, 7 p.m. at the Expo Exchange, Second Level, Greenbelt 1, Ayala Center, Makati. The concert will open this year’s French Spring in Manila. Also set to perform are the Jewelmer Jazz Band, Subconcept, Satya and the Jaime Oehlers’ Quartet. Organizers are Jewelmer International Corp. Air-France-KLM with BNP Paribas in association with Ambassade de France Aux Philippines, Alliance Francaise de Manille and Association Francaise d’Action Artistique. Admission is free and the show is open to the public.
Benoit’s Ultimate Collection
Still in the smooth jazz mood. Here is The Ultimate Collection from David Benoit, acknowledged master of the genre. Benoit, who made his debut in 1977, is also considered the pioneering artist of the smooth jazz sound usually associated with the ‘80s. It is cool and sophisticated, very much like that famous martini: shaken, not stirred.

The two-CD release has a whopping 30 cuts taken from Benoit’s best recordings of nearly three decades. A great find because the original album does not seem to be available anymore is Linus and Lucy from the tribute to the famed Peanuts comic strip by Charles Schulz on its 50th anniversary, Here’s to You Charlie Brown. Other goodies are the Beatles’ Here, There and Everywhere from I Get No Kick Against Modern Jazz because it is such a beautiful song no matter how you play it, Two Survivors because it is a definitive example of Benoit’s style and Every Step of the Way because it must be his most popular recording.

Some of the other more familiar titles are After the Love Has Gone, The Key to You, Take a Look Inside My Heart, I Just Can’t Stop Loving You, Can You Imagine, Shibuya Station, Cast Your Fate to the Wind, It’s the Thought That Counts, Any Other Time, When She Believed in Me, Any Other Time and If I Could Reach Rainbows.











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