November 16, 2017

November 16, 2017

by Michele T. Logarta

ACCLAIMED jazz musician and saxophonist Tots Tolentino will be the featured soloist in the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra’s concert on November 17, 8 PM at the CCP Main Theater.

He will be performing John William’s Catch Me if You Can.

The piece, which is from the original soundtrack of the film, Tolentino said, is “very frantic and technical for sax.  But also very loose and free. It’s a trip!”

His appearance with the PPO is his first as featured soloist and the second with a symphonic orchestra.  In the past, he performed the Glazunov concerto with the UST Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s always a treat and a learning experience for me,” he said.

Tolentino is one of the leading jazz solo artists in Asia today.  His albums have won critical acclaim and accolades in the local music industry. 

He has performed with top Philippine artists such as Lea Salonga, Martin Nievera, Janno Gibs and Gary Valenciano.  He also fronted for the Jazz group Buhay, which was composed of Wowee Posadas, Mar Dizon and Meong Pacana.  The group toured Asia and the USA.

Tolentino’s sound, described by critics as “passionate and energetic” as well as “articulate and authoritative” impressed Asia’s premiere jazzman, Terumasa Hino, who invited him to join the Asian Jazz Allstars.

Tolentino studied flute under Prof. Eric Barcelo at the University of the Philippines Conservatory of Music in 1977 to 1978. He continued his studies on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones under Joseph Viola at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts.  After graduating magna cum laude in 1982, Tolentino went on to become a leading session musician on the Philippine concert scene from 1984 to 1990.

Tolentino, at the age of 16, decided that the saxophone was to be his chosen instrument after he first heard jazz legend Charlie Parker.

“The sax is so close to the human voice. The expression, phrasing and range, Tolentino said.  “You can play hot and switch to cold in seconds. Even the way the instrument is built is the mirror image of the human body (or air passage..I don’t know what it’s called). It’s so personal that you can line up ten sax players and they will each sound so different and distinct.”

Tolentino loves the freedom of expression that jazz offers. 

“The constant flow of ideas new and old. The interaction between players that can even extend to the audience. The rhythm and groove,” said Tolentino describing the appeal of jazz.  “You shouldn’t play the sax without experiencing jazz. It’s just not right.”

Besides the saxophone and the flute, Tolentino also plays the shakuhachi (Japanese flute), clarinet and, most recently, the EWI (Electronic wind instrument).

Tolentino’s engagement with the PPO marks his reunion with Gerard Salonga, who is guest conductor for the concert.

“I’m very excited about this.  It’s a rare opportunity to share the stage with Gerard and the PPO,” Tolentino said.

Catch Tolentino with Salonga and the PPO on November 17, 8 PM, at the CCP Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo.  For inquiries and reservations, call the CCP Box Office (832-3704), TicketWorld (891-9999) or visit www.culturalcenter.gov.ph.