British Filipino jazz artist relaunches monthly show

by Patrick Camara Ropeta, ABS-CBN Europe News Bureau

Posted at Apr 27 2010 12:00 PM | Updated as of Apr 27 2010 08:00 PM

LONDON - British Filipino singer-songwriter Mishka Adams has relaunched her residency at the Vortex Jazz Club in northeast London. The musician took a six-month break from performing at the venue and is now back with a fresh concept for a new series of monthly shows.

Adams, who recently performed at the Philippine International Jazz Festival in Manila, named the project “Laro Nights”, which means ‘to play’ in Tagalog.

Each show will feature her music alongside a different act, showcasing individual performances and collaborations on stage, accompanied by a quintet of esteemed musicians - Hannes Riepler on guitar, Tim Fairhall on bass, Jon Scott on drums, Esben Tjalve on piano, and Andrew Woolf on sax and clarinet.

According to its website, the series “will open the floor to a great number of different acts whose own artistic directions are in tune with Mishka’s personal playlist. Expect anything from gospel, instrumental jazz, singer-songwriters and much more. The night is about sharing new music with both the audience and between the musicians themselves.”

The April show featured Swedish vocalist Emilia Martensson and British pianist Barry Green, who both delivered an ethereal performance of evocative music, including songs by James Taylor and a live collaboration with Adams.

Adams later took the stage with her own set, which included a rousing arrangement of Bjork’s “It’s Not Up to You”, an endearing rendition of Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”, and an enticing opening number called “Rivers”. She also delivered a haunting acoustic performance of a Filipino song, “Bato sa Buhangin” (Stones in Sand)", which seems to have intrigued the diverse multicultural audience.

The evening culminated with a duet between Adams and Martensson, performing a mesmerizing original composition entitled “Rise”. Accompanied by the band, they delivered an interesting fusion of beats with effective shifts in tempo and intensity. The smooth harmony between the vocalists, who have different tones to each other, completed the sound.

“Laro” will continue to play host to a number of different artists in the coming months - including Guillermo Rozenthuler, Kadialy Kouyate’s Sound Archive, Olivia Chaney, Norma Winstone and the London Vocal Project - as well as showcasing Adams as a growing artist.

“My music has changed a lot in the last few years. I started with jazz standards, and I also played some Tagalog songs, then I started doing original music,” she explained.

Born and raised in England, she writes most of her songs in her native tongue of English, though admits she would also like to write in Tagalog when her grasp of the language becomes more “poetic”.

The child of a Filipino artist and a British writer, she has always been proud of her mixed heritage, embracing both her Western and Asian backgrounds in all aspects of her life.

Adams has performed extensively in England and the Philippines since she was teenager. Having been exposed to jazz from a very early age, she released her first album, ‘God Bless the Child’, when she was just 20 years old, with same record label supporting artists like Jamie Callum and Stacey Kent. She also released a number of credible records in the Philippines, making her one of the most respected young artists in the scene.

Apart from her shows at the Vortex, there are plans for other performances at various music venues around London, including Pizza Express in Soho and 606 Club in Chelsea. She also makes appearances in Manila whenever possible, including haunts like Conspiracy, Captain’s Bar and 70s Bistro.

Mishka Adams’ “Laro Nights” runs once a month at the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston, London. ‘Willow Weep for Me’, her second album in Britain, is also out in September 2010 under Candid Records.