Tuesday, June 07, 2005

A Night of Music…and Pretentious Bullcrap

I had big hopes, I can tell you that. A free jazz concert featuring some really promising bands and a couple of established veterans. I’m not as big a jazz freak as I am about, er, other kinds of music, but after my friend Candace asked me to go with her to the event, organized by the French Embassy as part of their annual French Spring thing, my interest was piqued and I said yes. Being the music nerd that I am, I was looking forward to hearing some really great tunes and funky, old-school jazz.

I shouldn’t have expected too much. For one thing, I was surprised at the number of people who showed up at Greenbelt. Well, yeah, it was free, but I wonder if the same number of people would show up if the French people didn’t have anything to do with it. I mean, seriously, half the people there were probably looking to hook up with either some French dude or some hot French chick. (Later on, my theory proved to be correct as my friend Havy and I saw two “exotic” locals laying it on thick with a couple of clueless French dudes. But who knows, maybe it was the other way around…). We had to squeeze ourselves in amongst a crowd that included fancy fashionistas, socialites in their awards-night best, expats with wine glasses in hand, entire families including kids barely old enough to tie their shoelaces, and giggly, wide-eyed students who seemed like it was their first time out watching bands perform live. We were standing-up the whole time, next to one such group of students, one of whom kept jumping up and down and screaming excitedly in our ears I figured she must be dating one of the saxophone players or something. She was so irritating I swear there were a couple of times I wanted to give her a really good shove out towards the exit…or maybe just a solid punch right in the solar plexus. Is it too much to ask for restrained appreciation? Jeez.

Overall, the music itself was tolerable, to say the least. Like I said, I may not be a big jazz enthusiast, but I do know if a band is playing good music together or not. The first group, the Jewelmer jazz band, wasn’t too bad, if insanely boring music is your thing. Jazz is supposed to be an uplifting experience, thrilling and heady (at least to me), and I didn’t feel that with them. The second group, Subconcept, wasn’t that much better. They were made up of a bunch of kids in their teens and early twenties, and to their credit, they were talented. (I liked their take on Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”). Only they seemed like they were playing for themselves and weren’t really jelling. (It didn’t help that the guitar player was a bit too much into himself. People who were there would know what I’m talking about). They really should leave jazz up to the experts. Johnny Alegre Affinity, the next band, is one of them. They sounded great, their music, effortless and smooth, something the other bands weren’t. I can’t say anything else about them except that I hope people who are really into jazz buy their CD.

But the best band that night, sadly, wasn’t even Filipino. (Well, if you don’t count the half-Pinoy, half-Spanish keyboardist). Satya is made up of American, British and French students from the Berklee College of Music in the US. And man, could they play. They brought the house down when the British vocalist sang in Tagalog, the classic “Dahil Sa Isang Bulaklak.” I’d see them again if I have the chance, no question about it.

No, I wouldn’t exactly say I’ve become an instant hardcore jazz fan. It’ll take more jazzfests for that. Hopefully, the pretentious bunch won’t be there next time.


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