By Richie Quirino

In the summer of 1975, guitarist Bob Aves, shook the music industry by surprise by besting over 220 other bands in a nation wide search. The seminal band, "Destiny", proved itself to be worthy of being called 'numero uno' and what spelled the difference was the original music in a style of jazz called "fusion," the marriage of rock with jazz. Brandishing his Fender strat guitar, Bob Aves, startled the leading guitar honchos of the time by way of his fluid, technically proficient jazz fusion style of playing which was new at that time.

But it wasn't enough for Bob Aves to be enrolled at the U.P. Conservatory of Music for two years ('74-'76); he wanted to spread his wings further and touch base with the center of jazz music education in the world, the Berklee College of Music in Boston. This was where he armed himself with no less than a Bachelor's Degree of Music, major in Composition from a prestigious school that had nurtured jazz legends Quincy Jones and Chick Corea. While in Boston, he supplemented his classical music education by studying privately with Dr. Hugo Norden, the leading authority of Bach's music, and then head of the Boston University Ph.D. Music Department.

Bob Aves was called Mr. Bop by no less than Herb Pomeroy, trumpet player and one of the founding fathers of Berklee. His arrangement of the blues tune "Israel" by John Carisi, and original compositions like "Give It One More Shot" and "Just a Taste" were performed and recorded live by the college's premiere jazz orchestras, like the Berklee Concert Band, headed by Herb Pomeroy and Phil Wilson's Dues Band respectively. These big bands had the creme de la creme of the school such as saxophonist Eric Marienthal, Japanese pianist Makoto Ozone, and drummer Tommy Campbell.

Today, Bob Aves is presenting his most recent works to the global community by way of a solo album entitled "Inner Country". This new pristine nine cut original CD released by BMG records to usher in the new century and year of the Golden Dragon, is a reflection of Bob's inner world. Unlike his previous works which were heavily marked by the high-tech wizardry of multiple layers of sequenced synthesizers, he opted for the top jazz musicians as well as indigenous and world music practitioners of the country to back him up in a bid to present a live performance to promote his latest masterpiece, "Inner Country." A man of few words, Bob Aves, the producer, sound engineer, composer-arranger, and exceptional guitarist, unyields his spirit through such esoteric titles as, "Travelling Light", "Where the River Flows", "An Invitation", "In Silence", "Damgu", "Wave song", "Cultural Exchange", "Meeting you" and "Deng Deng". His exposure to the ethnic music of the Philippines has added many local indigenous instruments to his credit as a performer and Bob Aves has done an excellent job in employing these local ethnic instruments into his album. Aside from displaying his mastery over the electric and nylon guitars, he also played other stringed instruments like the Kudlong, Octavina, and even the Ukulele. The Angklung, Gabbang and the Kulintang, are likewise applied to his compositions in a contemporary manner. It took Bob Aves many years to develop the musical concept which resulted in the materials for "Inner Country", and several months or so to produce the record in his home studio called Sound Quest. "Inner Country", was originally produced under the Tao Music label which he founded together with his wife, Grace Nono, some years back; the production company which specializes in the release of titles of Philippine culture-based music, as well as various emergent genres. Bob Aves's new album is a mixture of World music, Philippine ethnic music, and of course, jazz.

Saxophone virtuoso Tots Tolentino on the soprano sax, pianist Bond Samson, and bassist Meong Pacana from the Ugoy-Ugoy, bassist extraordinaire Colby de la Calzada from the J.R. Cobb Jazz Chamber, power drummers Mar Dizon and Mike Alba who both endorse Zyldjian cymbals, Jeri de Leon also on bass, percussion guru Bo Razon, skin drummer Mike Tupas, chanter and bird whistler Nonoy Alcalde of Pinikpikan, Tausug singer Jakiri, Maranaw epic chanter Sindao Banisil, and folk icon Noel Cabangon join Bob Aves and Grace Nono in a flurry of melismatic and primordial array signaling the re-awakening of a soul once lost.

Bob stresses, "It's about time that we Filipinos create a sound that truly represents our layered consciousness shaped by our living history. This is something that cannot be copied nor simulated from other cultures but can only be the fruit of a continuous process of getting to know oneself and one's environment. From ancient influences culled from our ancestors' trade relations with the Chinese, Islamic, and Hindu peoples; to the more recent Spanish and American colonial periods, Japanese occupation, and today's globalization, we have forgotten the beauty and uniqueness of a culture which our ancestors lived and built for us. It is my passion to begin the process of coming home to it, while at the same time utilizing the new knowledge gathered from my own life experiences. To breathe new life to heritage is what I wish to achieve with the music of the "Inner Country", in the hope that it will awaken a keen interest in our roots, as well as inform the world of the distinct sound that we Filipinos have, within ourselves.

Bob Aves: The Composer / Arranger, Guitarist and Producer >>



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