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MANILA, Philippines - It’s 9pm on a drizzly Friday night. The rain does a soft pitter-patter on the canvas roof of the Rockwell Tent in Makati.
Inside the tent, several hundred ticket holders sit in awed silence as jazz guitar legend Tuck Andress does the first few bars of Carlos Santana’s "Europa," an intricate guitar piece that makes his hands glide, pop, and jump on his trademark Gibson L-5 guitar.
It’s a mesmerizing frenzy of sight and sound as his fingers strum, pluck, and strike his guitar strings while the other hand glides and jumps in equal fashion. When he ends with a dramatic flourish, there’s a spilt-second of complete silence, followed by applause and shouts of praise.
Earlier, Tuck was joined on stage by his wife of 32 years (and jazz partner for 35) Patti Cathcart. Together, the two form the jazz duo Tuck & Patti. They were among the two main acts on the first night of the annual Philippine International Jazz and Arts Festival.
The two make a formidable team: Tuck accompanies his wife on the guitar while the singer-songwriter known for her amazing jazz improvisations and jaw-dropping skat skills makes the audience hang on to her every made-up word and syllable.
“We’re committed to improvising so much that each performance changes every time,” says Patti. This, perhaps, explains Tuck’s strong gaze towards her throughout their entire performance.
“She’s the most interesting thing to look at anyway, but I have to look at her to know what's going to happen next,” explains Tuck. “She's full of surprises every time.”
Listen to Tuck Andress's guitar rendition of Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" here:
The Philippines isn’t exactly the first country that comes to mind when talking about jazz; but since 2009 the Jazz Fest has been bringing the world’s biggest jazz artists to the country. The event's popularity has seen a steady rise.
“We’ve just started to be introduced to a lot of the local musicians in the last few days, and we’ve been hearing some great talent,” says Patti. “There’s a whole tradition going around the world on jazz, and what I find hopeful is that there are young people now that are starting to come to the music.”
She adds, “There’s all this great stuff going on, so it’s an exciting time for jazz. The word just has to get more out there because it’s not yet in the mainstream. People don’t just turn on the TV and see it, or turn on the radio and hear it. So it really has always been an oral tradition that’s spread through word of mouth.”
For Tuck, meanwhile, “We’ve always known that music is really important to the Filipino people. In the United States there are all kinds of great Filipino musicians. And so we come here and everybody plays an instrument or sings. The standards are high here.”
As to which artists they listen to, Patti goes back to the classics: “I listen to all the greats; they’re my teachers, like Ella Fitzgerald.”
For Tuck, “I tend to go back to the same people I’ve listened to decade after decade: Wes Montgomery and George Benson on the guitar, Errol Gardner and Art Tatum for piano, and the traditional greats like Miles Davis and John Coltrane.
"And as a guitar player, I’ve listened to all different kinds of guitar, flamenco or rock and roll. It doesn’t matter; everything is exciting to me.” - Rappler.com
(The Philippine International Jazz and Arts Festival runs until February 27 at the Rockwell Tent in Makati, in partnership with ABS-CBN’s Cable and Print Media Group.)
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