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book review

STAGE PRESENCE edited by Theodore S. Gonzalves :: Conversations with Filipino American Performing Artists
by Ron Sagye La Rue

Publisher:Meritage Press

Stage Presence brings together in book form 10 artists: musicians,
poets,dancers and choreographers of Filipino ancestry. Mostly known
in the Filipino American community,but also in The Philippines. For
the purpose of this review I'm focusing on artists influenced by
Jazz. Gabe Baltazar Jr.(Filipino father,Japanese mother)a bonafide
Jazz musician. Interviewed by Theo Garneau,speaks of his early up-
bringing in Hawaii by mainly his grandmother. His father was a mus-
ician working jobs-- Baltazar talks candidly about being Filipino/
Japanese(it wasn't that common in the 1930s,he played in Filipino
bands firstly. Names like Benny Lapot a saxophonist, The Blue
Chords, and Bernie Conception.

Later on he went with Stan Kenton's band before that he recorded
with drummer Paul Togawa. I wish the Garneau would have spent more
time probing Baltazar's time with Togawa where they played how the
audience accepted the group the album.(note Togawa told me years
ago The Paul Togawa Quartet(Mode label;now VSOP)sold the best.
More time is spent on his time with the Kenton band and how it
was on the road. He also speaks to the issue of race relations,
saying there wasn't any they accepted him. "We had a black singer
Jean Turner and there was Curtis Counce(not 'Counts' as printed.

Overall very good background information on Baltazar though again
it would have been informative for Garneau to ask him about his
albums under his own name,including the Los Angeles scene during
the 1950s, '60s.

Makata(poet) Jessica Hagedorn originally from The Philippines came
to America in her teens best known for her novels Dogeaters, and
Dream Jungle. Has worked with cutting-edge Jazz musicians trombone
player Julian Priester(Sun Ra,Max Roach) composed music for her.
Hagedorn shares her experience from the 1970s thru the 1980s,on
the West Coast of America,San Francisco. And the transition to
New York and being influenced by the Art Ensemble of Chicago
Having gigs with vibist Jay Hoggard. Jazz musicians backing poets
was 'in' during the 1950s and '60s. This is one of the shortest
pieces in the book but very informative.

Alleluia Panis durning the fall of 1983 she began choreographing
for the San Francisco Kulingtag Ensemble, though she's worked with
Fred Ho saxophonist she explains how music inspired her choreo-
graphing from the early 1980s thru 1995, and at times the music
drove the choreography in unexpected ways. What is interesting is
that "Manong" her first dance was inspired by an American story,but
almost no mention of it! A Song for Manong was performed in San Fra
ncisco--the music was composed by Francis Ho, the following day of
the last performance the music was recorded. Released on an album
of the same name. Now available on "itunes". She does mention the
names Robert Henry,Joey Maliga and Dana Nunez who were part of
Kulingtang Arts also on the album. Panis converses on "Cycels" a
CD released 3 years later.

Pearl Ubungen another choreographer/cultural activist Jazz plays
a central role in her work,has worked with saxophonist Roberto De
Haven associated with St. John Coltrane Church(in his honor).She
too has a interesting story to tell;check it out.

Eleanor Academia considers herself a Rock musician but while she
was at Columbia records the marketing department didn't know were
to put her music. So, she was signed to the Jazz roster along with
Miles Davis, Wynton Marsalis etc. Playing keyboards she was told
she could be a female Herbie Hancock! Maybe even a Gloria Estefan,
Having performed with Joe Zawinul and opened for Nancy Wilson.
she states she was "blown away listening to Art Tatum"furthermore
Academia is trained in Kulingtan by the master Danongan Kalanduyan
who is also a subject in Stage Presence. There are excellent con-
tributor biographies at the back of the book. More info at:


published 26.10.2010 2005 jazz news :: home page