Sunday Lifestyle

Mishka Adams: Jazz for you

- Jim Ayson -
When all the annual music roundups for 2005 have been written, you just have to give props to the meteoric rise of Mishka Adams. Seemingly coming out of nowhere, this winsome young singer/songwriter took the Philippine music scene by surprise, using the often misunderstood genre of jazz as her vehicle.

Her album debut, "God Bless the Child," an unlikely combination of jazz standards and folk-rock originals, turned out to be the biggest seller from the fledgling Philippine division of British jazz label Candid Records. With her British-Filipina heritage, her striking good looks (an uncanny resemblance to Natalie Portman and Audrey Hepburn), her hip ethnic-Filipino-inspired fashion sense, and a precocious vocal style that referenced greats like Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, and Ella Fitzgerald, Mishka introduced countless young fans to the world of jazz standards.

But the mainstream record industry took notice. For a jazz artist, she got around. She romped off with the Awit Awards’ Best New Vocalist award (much to the annoyance and befuddlement of the Kitchie Nadal contingent) and landed on local magazine covers. Legendary music video director Boom Dayupay (of Kulay fame) jumped at the chance to direct her videos. She even went off to the UK for a couple of months to attend to the re-release of her Philippine-recorded album on the European market and did a few well-received club gigs that made the UK music press stand up and take notice. For a time, she seemed poised to become the best and brightest hope for Pinoyjazz.

Alas, we just got the word that Mishka’s spotlight in the local jazz scene will have to dim for the moment. It turns out we’re losing Mishka to the Brits. She’s off to the UK this coming January for music studies for a couple of years. She’ll also try to get a band together in London and do gigs around the country and in Europe.

That’s all very exciting for Mishka, but alas, we here in Manila will be missing her intimate club performances with her band Blue Echoes for quite a spell.

Thankfully, she’s not leaving without a proper send-off. And that send-off turns out to be a farewell concert that’s being produced at the Music Museum on Saturday, December 17. Titled "God Bless The Child," after the classic Billie Holiday song and her first album, the concert will feature Mishka in a variety of music settings that pair her with her musical friends and heroes.

There’s Mishka and her nimble band, Blue Echoes, which features the rock-solid rhythm section of Louie Talan on bass, Koko Bermejo on drums, and Arnold Casinto on percussion, with Mike Gueverra on sax, Ria Osorio on keyboards, and Edgar Avenir on guitar.

Mishka also performs with her underground guitar heroes Sammy Asuncion (of Spy and Pinikpikan), Noli Aurillo and Cynthia Alexander, exchanges vocalese with jazz singer Mon David, and performs her original compositions with a string section.

She also gets to highlight her prowess on saxophone (she is after all, a saxophone major at the UP Conservatory of Music), in a special number with the sax ensemble Saxoforo and, perhaps one of the best Philippine saxophonists ever, Tots Tolentino. Even Mishka’s family gets in the act, in a special number with her mother, the famed sculptor Agnes Arellano, and her talented uncle Deo Arellano of Philjazz Ensemble.

Also featured in the concert is jazz keyboard virtuoso Elhmir Saison, accompanying Mishka on a segment, with Tots Tolentino. There’s even a Brazilian segment featuring Nyco Maca and three capoeristas playing the traditional Brazilian instrument, the berimbau.

Will her favorite musicians around and all those musical scenarios depicting her brief musical odyssey, it’s a right farewell for Mishka, as we get to see her charm and artistry one last time before British jazz fans get to have her. We do hope we’ll get to see her again on a stage on these shores someday. Till then, this last gig at the Music Museum will have to do. God bless ya, Mishka!

"God Bess the Child" is supported by JBL, Cerveza Negra, Jack Daniels, Candid Records, Crossover 105. FM, Joey, Dream FM and Philmusic.com. It is produced by Station_01 Inc.
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Tickets to "God Bless The Child" on Dec. 17 at Music Museum, Greenhills at 7 p.m. are at P800 and P1,000. Call Station One at 910-9102, the Music Museum Ticketron at 721-6726 or Ticket World at 891-9999.











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