Sunday, January 18, 2015

Alma R. H. Reyes

TRAFFIC: "Boy will be Boy" Boy Katindig`s Japan Comeback

Jan - Feb 2015

The Year of the Horse seemed to have faded away with a sprint the horse, galloping to journeys of success the way Filipino jazz icon Boy Katindig pranced towards Japanese soil for the Tokyo-Manila Jazz & Arts Festival that took place last November 28-30.

As Boy tiptoes guardedly to usher in the Sheep its gentle fleece of dreams, sophistication, charm, delicacy, and creativity, he may have just met his luck for 2015 with his much awaited comeback to Japan after more than 30 years. After the enormous success of the TMJAF 2014, we shall hopefully see more of Boy, bouncing his fingers to favorite piano jazz standards, both in Manila and in Japan.

AR: So, how do you feel being back in Japan?
BK: It’s really a great feeling being back in Japan since my Circus Band trip. Japan has changed so much after more than 30 years! I went to Shibuya where I played years ago, and wow, you don’t see the same things anymore.

AR: What do you remember most about Japan back then, especially with regards to your work with Japanese musicians?
BK: My first time in Japan was with the Circus Band, but my first collaboration with a Japanese musician was with Tadao Hayashi when we performed together at the Araneta Coliseum. You know, jazz has evolved tremendously over these years. Back then, Tadao was doing a lot of pop jazz because that was what people wanted to hear. Pop jazz was the trend then. But, what I was doing was more contemporary jazz, fusion…like Chick Corea. I think we were pretty advanced during that time (in the Philippines), in terms of our music style. That was music that Filipinos were not used to hearing. You go to Araneta Coliseum, and you get crossed eyebrows, like “Huh?”

AR: Surely, you will always be regarded as the pioneer of smooth jazz in the Philippines. No other Filipino jazz musician, or family of musicians has come so close to penetrating the local jazz scene.
BK: I’m not really sure if I was the pioneer…but yes, I focused very much on smooth jazz then. My album, “Groovin’ High” was the step towards creating smooth jazz music. During that era, I was touring with Paul Taylor. In all those tours, I heard a lot of smooth jazz. You have to think of the business side as well—how you can sell your records. A lot of people were checking out jazz festivals; it was like Woodstock: Peter White, Michael Paulo…so I made that album.

AR: But, smooth jazz today is only heard in the US, right? Most smooth jazz artists today claim this genre is dying. What do you think is the reason for this?
BK: Yes…it is on its way out. Fusion is coming in, and returning to standards. People may have just heard too much of it and are looking for something different.

AR: Tell us about your exit to the US. What made you decide to leave the Philippines in the mid ‘80s?
BK: Back in Manila, a lot of my records were being played on the radio. You need radio to be heard, and then people buy your music. But, jazz stations in the Philippines reformatted. Helen Vela came in—well, that and punk rock were what the mass wanted to hear, right. There was no other way for me but to exit. My parents were already then in the US. They thought I could explore my jazz interests in the US, and I’m glad I made the move. Meeting Al Jarreau, Gerard Albright, Kalapana, James Ingram, Johnny Mathis, Kenny Loggins, Patti Austin, David Benoit…and so many others. It was the place to be. Even jazz clubs in Manila died out. The last time I played there was in the Tap Room at the Manila Hotel on the first anniversary of Ninoy Aquino.

AR: How do you see yourself if you never left the Philippines?
BK: Wow, if I never left, I may be dead by now (laughs)! Seriously, many of my contemporaries have passed away. There was no place then to play; you weren’t given the drive to write songs. I would have ended up very old, frustrated and depressed (laughs).

AR: What are your thoughts of OPM today? Could the local scene still revive those good old days of the Apo Hiking Society, Jose Mari Chan…?
BK: I think OPM still exists. Ogie Alcasid is composing a lot. Noel Cabangon is doing a great job. Rico Puno is still there. Fans flock his US tours. I’m part of the World Youth Jazz Festival. We now look to the young artists since they are the future; they need to be nurtured as long as they write original material. Even my band members are young musicians; I prefer to work with the young artists these days. Also, I formed the Boy Katindig Jazz Competition. Through that, we were able to send young musicians to Malaysia and let them experience playing in front of a huge audience. I think there is hope for OPM or jazz back in the Philippines if they revive jazz radio stations, or open more venues. If you don’t have those things, how can people listen to you?

AR: And so, the TMJAF was very lucky to have you in its festival this 2014. How did this collaboration start?
BK: I’m really happy about the TMJAF. Charito and I were already friends in Facebook, and then one day, we just started talking about doing something. It’s really healthy to collaborate with the Japanese musicians and to exchange ideas—to have them play your music. It definitely has to continue every year; otherwise, you don’t meet the purpose.

AR: Looking to another Circus Band reunion soon? Or, a future project?
BK: (laughs) You know I have been offered to reunite the Circus Band. I said, we could only do it if all the members are complete. But Pabs (Dadivas) for example, has changed religions—there are a lot of restrictions—and he was our clown. You can’t have a circus without a clown. I only joined one Circus Band reunion when all the members were complete. Without everyone there, it doesn’t complete the concept. But aside from that, I plan to do a 40th anniversary concert soon.

Whether they’re “My Thoughts of You,” “My Inner Fantasies,” “Without Your Love,”  “Don’t Ask My Neighbor,” “What I Feel,” or “Away From You,” Boy Katindig shall never be far and away from his piano, always ready for a fusion comeback, and jamming with the youth for the future of jazz.

Jazz it up for the New Year!

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