The stage is set: Jeepney Jazz opens at Ayala Museum

“The Philippines has a jazz history?”

Dr. Wolfram Knauer, the director of the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt, the repository of Europe’s largest public jazz archive, posted the question in 2006 to Filipino jazz historian Richie Quirino, who gifted him with his first book Pinoy Jazz Traditions.

The German musicologist was astounded and inspired that the next time the two met, he gifted Quirino with his own book about the history of his country’s jazz scene.

Our jazz scene seems to work in cycles. And the scene is emerging again.

Quirino would later write two more tomes with the entire project taking about 10 years of his life. He later added this to the Jazzinstitut Darmstadt along with a documentary that Quirino helped produce.

Our Philippine jazz history will be the subject of an almost two-month long event at the Ayala Museum called Jeepney Jazz: Indigenous Legacies.

The event that places Filipino jazz into the spotlight kicks off with a free webinar this Friday, September 29 at 2pm via Zoom called, Jeepney Jazz Talks, and features Quirino, as well as the acknowledged Queen of Filipino Jazz, Sandra Lim-Viray.

Philippine Jazz Forum

The first performance session will be on October 13 called Project 201 and is about indigenous music and jazzy Original Pilipino Music.

Songwriter and musician Dan Gil (who has performed with and produced Smokey Mountain, Sun Valley Crew, Grace Nono, and rhythm and blues band the Chillitees among others) and singer and actress Bituin Escalante take the stage on October 28 in for an entirely original show called New York, Cubao.

The third session features international Filipino jazz artist Johnny Alegre and Humanfolk on November 17.

All the live performances will be from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Ayala Museum main lobby with tickets priced at Php 2,000 (regular), Php 1,600 (discounted for students, teachers, and Ayala Group employees), and Php 1,400 (senior/PWD).

“Jazz was brought over to our country by the Americans along with the English language and our educational system among others,” recounted Quirino. “Our being fluent in English is a massive advantage over our Asian neighbors because we can sing songs in English.”

“The use of the word ‘Jeepney’ is both a nod to our American colonial period roots as they brought the vehicle to our country initially for military use, but later appropriated for public transportation use. And it’s masa which is perfect,” added Quirino.

“Our place in the spread of jazz music in Asia is well documented,” summed up Quirino. “Locally, our jazz scene seems to work in cycles. And the scene is emerging again. So Jeepney Jazz looks to help bring the scene back to the top, but to also provide a younger audience with our rich history into this much loved musical style.”

Jeepney Jazz Indigenous Legacies is sponsored by the Filipinas Heritage Library in partnership with Purefoods Deli.

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