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Johnny Alegre AFFINITY

Johnny Alegre AFFINITY on Candid Records

Candid Records

Johnny Alegre AFFINITY

Johnny Alegre AFFINITY: Jazzhound (Candid UK)at

Candid Records Philippines Corp., the Manila subsidiary of the independent jazz record company based in the UK, announced the addition of the Johnny Alegre to its prestigious catalog of jazz artists. The inclusion of Johnny Alegre further establishes Candid Records' presence in Manila as the premiere jazz record exponent of the Far East and, perhaps, of the Asia-Pacific rim. Lauded by a Business World feature article as "Manila's jazz superband", the music of the Johnny Alegre AFFINITY is documented in the stellar collaboration of their eponymous first album (re-released in the UK as "Jazzhound"), featuring alto saxophonist Tots Tolentino, pianist Elhmir Saison, bassist Colby de la Calazada, and drummer Koko Bermejo; as well as the orchestral collaboration with conductor Gerard Salonga and arranger Ria Villena-Osorio in the album, "Eastern Skies".

The Candid Records label originated in New York in the 1960s when Archie Bleyer, owner of the Cadence Label and producer/writer Nat Hentoff, indulged their passion for jazz music with their own jazz line, with recordings by Charles Mingus, Abbey Lincoln, Steve Lacy, Charlie Mariano, Max Roach and other jazz musicians regarded today as legends.

Alan Bates, today's CEO of Candid, observes "there is an amazing amount of wonderful talents to be heard far and wide in the jazz world." Among Candid's refurbished catalog are albums by Dimitri Vassilakis, Mishka Adams, Jacqui Dankworth, Kyle Eastwood, Stacey Kent, Mon David and Jamie Cullum.

Guitarist Juan B.H. Alegre III, aka Johnny Alegre attended the University of the Philippines College of Music in the latter 1970s, majored in composition and was a founding member of the U.P. Jazz Ensemble (which became the spawning ground for many of Manila's jazz musicians). He studied with the jazz educator Dr. Joseph Howard and pianist Fred Robles. He further participated in creative workshops conducted by musicologist-composer Dr. Erhard Karkoschka, guitarist Ike Isaacs, composer-scholar Chou Wen-chung and the Gamelan master, Wisnusubroto Sunardi. Alegre was professionally involved in scores of bar bands and recording projects, spanning more than two decades of Philippine jazz and popular music history and discography; in various capacities as musician, arranger and record producer. In May of 2002, Johnny Alegre formed what became arguably Manila's premier jazz collective, the Johnny Alegre AFFINITY, with bassist Colby de la Calzada, drummer Koko Bermejo, pianist Elhmir Saison and saxophonist Tots Tolentino; initiating a series of musical chairs that continue dynamically until the present in various configurations. His group performances span the breadth of Manila's high profile clubs and concert venues as a hard-hitting guitar trio; as an atmospheric quartet; and as a jazz quintet par excellence, sometimes supplemented by the exceptional vocalist (Mishka Adams, Cooky Chua). AFFINITY's first recorded work, "Stones Of Intramuros", written by Alegre, was introduced via a limited edition Philippine jazz anthology CD, Adobo Jazz Vol.1 (Indira), that caught the attention of the U.K.-based jazz specialty label, Candid Records. Subsequently, the first eponymous album, "Johnny Alegre AFFINITY" was released in the Philippines in mid-2005, described in the local press as "a blend of musical, technical and communal creativity between the composer and his allies". The opus was subsequently re-released in the UK as "Jazzhound", with a favorable review in the magazine, Jazzwise, and a number of mainstream publications (Nottingham Evening Post, Birmingham Evening Mail, Sunderland Echo, etc)and capped by two sold-out engagements (with guest saxophonist, Dimitri Vassilakis) in London's PizzaExpress Jazz Club. As part of the evolving cultural landscape of creative music in the Asia-Pacific, Johnny Alegre�s musical projects contribute meaningfully towards bringing an emerging and vibrant Philippine jazz milieu to the attention of Southeast Asia and beyond. Johnny Alegre unfolds his music in 2008 with a large and ambitious work, Eastern Skies, set to the symphonic backdrop of the Global Studio Orchestra conducted by Berklee suma cum laude Gerard Salonga with arrangements by Ria-Villena-Osorio. The new album is the long-awaited response to the clamor for even more innovative music from "Manila's jazz superband". In 2009, MCA Music (Universal Music Group) released a global breakthrough effort for a Philippine artist: a U.S. recording of the guitarist-composer joined by Billy Hart (drums) and Ron McClure (bass) entitled Johnny Alegre 3. Plans are also afoot for a Philippine-release album anthology (live and studio tracks) featuring several incarnations of Johnny Alegre's AFFINITY unit. As part of the ever-evolving cultural landscape in Manila, Johnny Alegre's projects with AFFINITY contribute greatly to the city's unique and vibrant jazz milieu.

Here here are personal greetings from Johnny Alegre:

Welcome to our "CyberJazz Woodshed", our very earliest jazz den in cyberspace. Thank you for stopping by here and bless you for your kind interest. I've long enjoyed surfing the graphical Web, (that's what we used to call it when all this started); and as you see, we've been plugging away since the text-based "www" took a turn to Mosaic and the early Navigators and Explorers, on to the Firefoxes and Chromes. To those who've visited here previously, it's been a real while, hasn't it? What's pleasantly different nowadays is that, well, we have experts abounding who offer us their generous advise and they have guided us through the changes.

I play improvisational guitar, the style where you deliberately step out of what you usually do, into a state where you discover problems, clues, pathways and new possibilities. I am constantly engaged with artistic issues, regarding time, articulation, the shaping of notes and harmonies and musical forms and sub-genres, with all the growing pains and discomfort a creative artist must deal with in life. My childhood home had abundant amounts of vinyl strewn about, and I remember hearing exciting music as far back as I can remember, such as 50s Elvis Sun and RCA Records, Frank Sinatra in his Capitol years, and later being absorbed into the 60s milieu of the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Cream and the advent of British Blues and hard rock, CSN&Y and Carlos Santana and Woodstock, and the venerable B.B. King. I also took a keen interest in the Thomas Jefferson Library of the United States Information Service, where I borrowed LPs by Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong and his "Hot" combos, Charlie Parker, the Miles Davis and Gil Evans collaborations, Thelonius Monk, Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz", Charles Mingus, and the Modern Jazz Quartet. As my listening habits evolved, I discovered Antonio Carlos Jobim, Ella Fitzgerald, Claus Ogerman, Stan Getz, Stevie Wonder, Ravi Shankar, entire institutions of 70s jazz eclecticism like Circle, the early RTF, Weather Report, Lifetime and Mahavishnu, Keith Jarrett, Mwandishi, Headhunters, ECM, and so forth. Necessarily a very large bag indeed, or so I imagined. But the most influential turning points happened sometime in my freshman year in college, when I "discovered" for myself the albums "A Love Supreme" by John Coltrane and "In A Silent Way" by Miles Davis, which permanently changed the way I wanted to learn and play music. I'm constantly involved with all manner of musical searching; but those two main cats are the enduring inspirations and guideposts.

Much of my jazz playing today is self-taught which I've learnt, as any language, by assimilation and iteration; by listening to recordings and live performances, being blown away, woodshedding constantly, and deriving some very personal conclusions. I've had the privilege of studying with jazz educators like Dr. Joseph Howard and the late Prof. Fred Robles in the University of the Philippines. There, I also attended workshops conducted by visiting dignitaries such as Stephane Grappelli's guitarist, Ike Isaacs, the musicologist Erhard Karkoschka, and the composer Chou Wen-chung. And then, I draw a great deal of energy from the gifted musicians in my country whom I work with. For me, each gig on stage and in the recording booth is a lesson that works towards my own growth as an artist. Every note I flub tells me I'm on to something, just as valuable as every inspired note taking me where I want to go. That's the mysticism and liberation of jazz, as profound as it can be.

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Thanks to Jim Ayson of Philmusic for the classic photo (green shirt).
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