Their inspirations include Count Basie, Louis Armstrong and Filipino composer-arranger-guitarist Eddie Munji.
Some come from Cardona, Rizal, a province in which every town has a band, and per-formed in Hong Kong Disneyland. They are musically literate, read notes and play with scores.
This is the Erehwon Jazz Orchestra, newly formed by the Erehwon Center for the Arts (09163772431) in Old Balara, Quezon City, which is headed by businessman and lover of the arts Rafael Benitez, a member of the well-known clan active in education and cultural activities.
There are 17 performers, including two women: five saxophonists, four trombonists, four trumpeteers, two percussionists, one bass guitarist and one keyboard pianist.
Their president is a saxophonist named after a rock star, Mick-Jagger de los Santos, and music director is Jack Lagonoy, bass guitarist. Both are products of the University of the Philippines College of Music.
“We can help them perform, we can give them opportunities,” says Benitez of the group. “They want to express their music. Already there is an offer, an Afternoon Tea at Shangri-La Makati. They want to perform, and if they’re good, the audience, if even they are just chatting, will be captivated.”
Their repertoire consists of Latin jazz, swing, standard, ballads, danceable music and even a mean bossa nova.
Benitez, who thinks big, has plans for the orchestra. The group wants to perform not just in Metro Manila but nationwide, focusing on five-star hotels, casinos and eventually, who knows, a nationwide event, cruise ships and love boats.
“We have set our minds on that eventuality,” says the Erehwon CEO. “Essentially that is the vision of the orchestra, we want to support as many musicians as we can.” —CONTRIBUTED