12:00:00 AM

My friend Aya Yuson is one of the best jazz guitarists in the Philippines today. When I first met him, he gave me a copy of Zen and the Art of Dressmaking, the second album of his group, Witch Doctors of Underground Jazz Improvisation, or WDOUJI for short. Sounds intimidating, right?

(image from the internet)
When he gave me this album, I immediately copied the tracks on my iPod and listened to everything. The first time was incredible as it was dizzying. I like jazz, but at the time, it was still quite new to me, so the album was a bit overwhelming. I guess I shouldn't have expected less from the collaboration of the best jazz musicians in the country.
The Men of WDOUJI
(photo from the internet)
The group is composed of Aya Yuson (guitars), Simon Tan (bass), Koko Bermejo (drums), and Ronald Tomas (sax). There's been talk of a third album, but I'm not sure how or when this will happen because last I heard, the group is on an indefinite hiatus. I really hope they get back together and make more music.

When I wrote about Tchaikovsky a few weeks back, I described his music as evocative, and I'd use the same word for WDOUJI. Jazz started in New Orleans as the music of the African-American slaves. It was a release for them, one of the few things they were free to enjoy. The genre has evolved much since, and has found its way to different places, in the hands of different musicians.

WDOUJI is a fresh update of the genre. All the usual elements - the symmetry, the syncopations - are still very much there, but they added a new range of emotions to the music, and the result is just astounding. If you're a jazz lover, or if you're looking to explore, then this is the album you have to hear.

P.S. My favorite track is Monk in Love. But I also love Alfie's Bounce, Fresh Footprints in the Sands of Davao, and The San Fo Blues.


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