One of the best Philippine jazz albums is getting reissued on vinyl this Sunday, October 2.
"Affinity" by Johnny Alegre is out once more courtesy of Backspacer Records. The album, first released on compact disc by American label Candid Records in 2005, sold well not only in the Philippines, but also in the Netherlands, Germany, Korea, and Japan.
Now, 17 years after its initial release, fans – including a new generation of them – will discover this jazz masterpiece. The music will remind listeners of different things but they can’t put your finger on it. Only then will listeners realize that this is a beautiful amalgam of free and smooth jazz, as well as the sum of varied and vibrant influences if you will.
And it’s something that Alegre makes no bones about.
“What went into 'Affinity' was a lifetime of experiences,” recalled Alegre of its production. “The compositions were definitely from various times in my life. The advantage I had was that I wasn’t invested in the trendy music of the day. I went for the classic tones and lessons I learned that needed to be expressed.”
That expression was given life by some of the best Filipino jazz musicians in the business – Tots Tolentino on saxophone, Elhimir Saison on piano, Colby de la Calzada on bass, Koko Bermejo on drums, with Alegre himself on guitars.
“Every musician in that group was a piece of the mosaic or puzzle,” described Alegre of the all-star cast that recorded Affinity.
“It was a time when about a handful of bands were making this kind of music,” added Alegre. “The music brought us places because the writing, musicality, and us being consistently in the zone made it happen.”
The result is some 63 minutes of music that is breezy and yet, urbane; free-spirited, yet woven into tight grooves. And speaking of grooves, it sounds absolutely great on vinyl.
“Whether 'Affinity' is the best sounding Philippine jazz album is for one to experience,” said Alegre. “This album for me is a work of art.”
And the vinyl version sure is.
It’s a limited edition (200 copies) double long playing record in tri-fold jacket with poly-lined inner sleeves, including liner notes by a world renowned jazz producer, Alan Bates.
“It’s a dream,” marveled Alegre of the vinyl release. “I encourage the vinyl community to have it in their collection.”
And yes, Affinity is one that every music fan should have.