(Mon David, Gary V., Diane Schuur)
LAST Saturday, Feb. 24, my friends and I spent a great night at the Harbor Garden tent of the Sofitel Philippine Plaza, listening to super classy jazz acts. Topbilling the night's performances was the first lady of jazz herself, Diane Schuur, my supreme idol! I mean this woman can really sing and croon and how she can scat! The first time I heard Diane Schuur sing 'Louisiana Sunday Afternoon'...this was probably in the late '80's...I thought that she was another sexy Black female artist in the mold of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, or Sarah Vaughan. I was surprised to learn then that she was actually white, and blind, but man, she is as good as jazz gets. What a fabulous performer! Ms. Diane, who obliged us by having our photos taken with her, told me that this was actually her third visit to Manila. Man, I don't know how I could've missed the first two. Where the hell was I those times? Hmmm...
But we had to wait the entire night before she actually mounted the stage. Before her was a number of the country's best jazz performers like Tots Tolentino, Mon David, Lynn Shermann, Stella Ignacio, Myra Ruaro – the last three sang with other female artists who called themselves 'Dreamgirls' (10 points for originality) – and Gary V. Look Gary V. is really a great singer and performer...I just wish he would stop doing his Michael Jackson moves. That's so old already Gary! and we're all grown up! C'mon!
(Cutie Eldar Djangirov and newest groupie, yours truly)
The surprise for the night was 20-year-old jazz pianist Eldar Djangirov, who is currently the most celebrated jazz pianist in the US. This kid, ooooh such a hottie may I add, was just fantastic. His fingers just lightly tripped over the piano keys, exerting supreme control over the volume and speed over the way the tunes were played. Technique at its finest. He completely wowed the audience with his masterful command of the keys.
One of the most enjoyable parts of the evening was the jamming between Ms. Diane and Prince Eldar, both enjoying each other's turn, unselfishly giving of each other's talent to make for a better show. Another treat was Mon David, Gary V and Ms. Diane jamming on 'Spain'...wow! I have never been so proud to be a Pinoy that night as I watched Mon and Gary put on a good show with someone as famous as Ms. Diane. It must have been a very humbling experience to be in the presence of such immense talent, no pun intended, and the crowds just couldn't stop applauding them after the performance. Ang galing!
(Super fans Pangs, and me with Diane Schuur...cool)
I completely lost my bearing as a journalist and just gave in to the fan that I am, getting my photos taken with Lady Diane and Prince Eldar. I didn't attempt at all to interview them...I was just too thrilled to meet these great great performers. I couldn't care less that I probably let a good story get away. I was just a fan and that was all that mattered.
Seen enjoying the performances were Sofitel general manager Bernd Schneider, French Ambassador to Manila Gérard Chesnel, Monk's Dream owner and STI president Gus Lagman, Inquirer business columnist Conrad Banal with cousin, the former Bb. Pilipinas International Gem Padilla, Inquirer food reviewer Mickey Fenix with restaurateur Myrna Segismundo in tow, BPI Foundation associate director Chell Jacob, among others.
Congratulations to the organizers of the Philippine Jazz Festival for bringing such wonderful talents together in one show. And props to Sofitel as well for hosting the event. I'm pretty sure jazz afficionados will finally find a home in the hotel with the launch tonight of its newest outlet, Le Bar. Ahh, culture at last.
(You can check out my other photos of the jazzfest on Flickr.)