‘Brilliant orchestrating pianist’ Tateng Katindig launches CD

‘Brilliant orchestrating pianist’ Tateng Katindig launches CD

“I’ve worked with and listened to Tats [Tateng Katindig] on many occasions. Tonight, however, I met Katindig’s heart. With each number, the audience held its collective breath–sometimes enthusiastically hooting, applauding and breaking stride when the musicians took off and ran with amazing ad-libs and solos. Two original songs – one about his mom [Remembering Remy] – were quiet and so sincere that our souls met his. BRAVO Katindig!! Also deserving of congratulations are Jeff Littleton – bass, Abe Lagrimas – drums (can anyone be THAT amazing?) and Ner de Leon on saxophone being his usual versatile self. Mon David joined in to rouse us all with improvisational vocals delivered as only Mon can. - Becca Godinez, 2017.

It takes a fellow artist to capture the essence of another artist, Tateng Katindig, who played 10 pieces at Alvas Showroom, a jazz and blues club.

Alvas is tucked in a non-descript residential area of San Pedro, California, next to a music store and by day, a ballet place. Katindig launched his second CD, “Impromptu,” produced by Derek Nakamoto, a pianist, and James Ng, a music composer.

A sold-out audience of over 80 people came, expecting a concert and the A-list band of Katindig, Abe Lagrimas, Jr., and Jeff Littleton slayed.

Slayed, for the audience could not contain themselves in joy and delight, as they shouted out names of composers after pieces were played.

Folks queued to buy not just one, but two CDs, “one for my shelf, while another to my car,” said a middle-aged man, holding a toddler.

In Glendale, a larger segment of the community attended FASO (Filipino American Symphony Orchestra)’s event, where folks danced, decked at their Saturday’s best.

Here in San Pedro, the Alvas’ crowd was low-key, some in casual jeans. But their jeans belied their seriousness, as they knew these jazz pieces.

Derek Nakamoto of NMG Records welcomed us. He affirmed Katindig’s talents that while he himself practices playing the piano daily, he told us he would not come close to Katindig’s abilities as a “brilliant orchestrating pianist.” This was perhaps an endearing affirmation of the artist, but also hands down, Alvas is one of best musical venues due to its exacting acoustics, and the sound engineering capabilities of Art Valdez, the sound engineer, who knew what he was doing on the amplifying boards.

“Impromptu” CD by Tateng Katindig

Tateng Katindig came onstage and greeted the audience, acknowledging the efforts of the love of his life, Dinah Katindig, who greeted folks as they came in, and his daughter, Ella.

The audience took to Velas by I. Lins and V. Marins, a tribute to ‘The Harp’, Toots Thielemans, the harmonica player who died last year at 94yo. Katindig’s fingers traveled the length of the piano, ten notes and perhaps more, and as he did, one’s legs spontaneously moved and the crowd interrupted with claps in the middle of his piece.

When he played the keys for” Blues Lee,” an original composition, for Eduardo Katindig III, Tateng’s son, it was as if “hinaharot” (fiddling the keys), tickling them to have a different timbre, from quiet to loud ones, light and bouncy, with a mix of harmonics. A mix that even Abe Lagrimas’ head bobs up and down with his jaws and shoulders, while the amazing bass player, Jeff Littleton, plucked the strings of his bass so gently. The crowd generously clapped and at times could not wait to clap.

“Some Other Sunset” was sweet, mellow, romantic and lulls you to slumber, but one cannot, as at times, the piano is played to make bell sounds and the crowd sounds off in oooohs in unison and then after, they shouted David Benoit, recognizing the genius composer.

Moanin is where we found Katindig intently pounding the keys, in harmony with the band, at times the sounds seemed upfront, sometimes receding, and the crowd went wild in applause. Then, Littleton’s bass dominated the rhythm and the drum, as if a metronome and one’s feet bounce to the rhythms. Katindig picked it up and the sound tingled, rocked, moved and just wanted to bounce off stage…oh my amazing, the words came out of the audience. A solo drumming by Lagrimas, Jr. who went into form, as his sticks pounded, while his body became one with his drums and more. Katindig responded by not allowing the sounds to die down and picked it up, to which the crowd simply erupted. We now have a party of sounds and the crowd interrupted with loud yays.

Affectionately called Boy Wonder by his fellow musicians, Abe Lagrimas, Jr. is a joy to watch. His masterful holding of sticks, his timing, to his rhythmic strokes of singles to rebounding ones, this magical drummer effortlessly make sounds pop. No wonder he is flown all over the world to play for audiences and intimate homes.

I have watched him play for years, first at the Catalina Bar, to the Ford Amphitheater to this showroom, but tonight, he showed his evolution from the boisterous, vibrant loud drummer to where drumming felt like light dancing, with the crowd so mesmerized, listening to his superior talents. A mainstream drummer has yet to come close to Abe’s talents onstage, one who not only plays drums but also is a one-man orchestra with his ukulele and vibraphone, which I saw before.

Equally significant in talent was Jeff Littleton who at times played with his eyes closed and his two fingers gliding the strings, made the bass sounding with its own magic, as Katindig on the piano. It was such a treat to watch these masterful musicians effortlessly share their talents, not settling for mediocrity, but with superior commands of their craft, their instruments, and most of all, playing with such love for each note.

Katindig gave us a superior concert with his CD launch of “Impromptu,” and the “subtlety of their masterful playing can be heard by the audience.” But to our surprise, Mon David — lovingly called Nyor Mon and referred to Masterful Mon — was beckoned to come onstage and delighted us with the energy scatting. As Mon said, his vocalese in Tagalog is done to create “his own lyrics over an existing melody…some are done ‘impromptu’ and some have been preconceived.”

“Remembering Remy,” an original by Katindig for his mom, Remedios Narvaez whom he lost in 1983, created an upsurge of melancholy, welling us up to this somber song. The crowd was so focused, with Ner de Leon on the sax, who got the sounds even tenderly sad and somber that you could hear a pin drop.

By the time Katindig played “the Endless Stars” by Fred Hersch, “Tu Fi Fella” by James Ng, then, the finale, “Cannes,” the crowd bargained for an encore. Katindig obliged and played “Billie’s Bounce.” It took God’s divine intervention to complete the last two, Katindig said, as he had run out of his own energies.

“Impromptu” more than delighted its audience — it soared in our consciousness, as days later, we were still playing the CD repeatedly.

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