Mon David’s integrity of heart in his Mark Murphy’s tribute

Mon David’s integrity of heart in his Mark Murphy’s tribute

[Disclosure: The writer is a wedding godmother to Nicole and Jake Yalong.] 

“The process is the person. And if you do not allow the dictates of formula to rule over you, your Indio-genius blossoms.” – Kidlat Tahimik to Randolph David, in his book, “Silence,” co-authored with Jaime Zobel, 2004.

Mon David’s November 9 concert was his tribute to Mark Murphy.

“Before Mark Murphy transitioned to a peaceful place,” David said, “I did an arrangement and wanted to submit it to Mark. Who knows he might be up there now, listening to this Glenn Miller piece, ‘Moonlight Serenade.’”

Onstage, David was accompanied by an A-list band: Andy Langham, who deftly played the piano, receding at times, to give Mon the almost full measure of the sound space; Abe Lagrimas, Jr., both a drummer and ukulele player, with fans swooning in China and Hawaii, and Dominic Thiroux on bass, who mesmerized us with his solos.

David elaborated on his intentions for this tribute, saying, “Mark Murphy was all about beauty, truth and honesty and throughout his entire career, he never wavered in his vision – always taking music to its highest creative level, whether through the quality of the pieces he chooses to interpret or through their lyrics and arrangements. Any song that reflects his life experiences and consciousness he renders in his own unique, creative fearless ways. He was a beautiful risk-taker in his approach, always finding new and fresh ways to express his emotions and I can relate to that very much.”

Wikipedia described Murphy as an NY-based jazz singer who was known for his use of vocalese and improvisations with both melody and lyrics. Murphy was the recipient of the six Grammy award nominations for best Vocal Jazz performance. He was a prolific singer with published albums, almost successively each year, from 1956 to 2017.

David’s repertoire included these songs and he provided extensive notes for the readers: “‘Boplicity (Bebop Lives!),’ is a jazz classic written by Miles Davis with the vocal version closely linked to Mark Murphy. ‘Stolen Moments’ is an Oliver Nelson classic with lyrics by Murphy and this is his most known piece. ‘Beauty and the Beast’ was written by Wayne Shorter with the poem and lyrics by Murphy.”

David eloquently delivers them, with the opening line, “We see the world through faulty eyes.”

He wrote to me: “‘Milestones’ is another instrumental jazz favorite written by Miles Davis and made famous by Murphy’s interpretation. He did his own improvisation and added words, based on Steve Job’s philosophies, while retaining some of the original lyrics.

“‘Ballad of the Sad Young Men’ was written by Tom Wolf and Fran Landesman and was first recorded by Mark Murphy. The repertoire is 80 percent inspired by Mark’s spirit, artistry and vision. and I thought it would be good to include a bit of varied spices like our very own classic ‘Minamahal, Sinasamba’ (Beloved, Adored) by Tito Arevalo.

“Sometimes Murphy would use his voice as another instrument like the sax or trumpet but always retaining that ‘in the moment’ quality. I consider him one of my inspirations along with Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Thelonious Monk…his artistic range is so wide just like his voice.”

Looking at the mirror: David sees his heart

Jazz critic Roger Crane described David as “like Mark Murphy, whose singing he, at times, resembles. Mon David can swing you into bad health and then, turn around and break your heart with a ballad.”

Don Heckmann of the International Review of Music describes David as “a rarity; a male jazz vocalist with a distinctly original style of his own – a remarkable voice able to leap octaves in a single bound, combined with a world-class scat singing style.”

Mark Winkler, a song composer, asserted that David is the best male jazz vocalist. Wearing a dark navy blue suit, David’s radiance is palpable onstage.

Winkler and David sang Winkler’s “Stay Hip,” and the lyrics resonated: “One Note played in the silence can be symphony/Stay True, Stay young, Stay hip,” while they playfully danced. Winkler also co-wrote “Land of the Loving” with David Benoit, recorded by Diane Reeves and later sung by Lea Salonga.

It made for an upbeat moment, along with David’s duet with Cathy Segal-Garcia of “Desafinado” by Antonio Carlos Brasileiro de Almeida Jobim, aka Tom Jobim, to Bossa Nova tunes. David got Segal-Garcia quite relaxed by sensitively asking her first, “What Key?” and they sang, not the standard F, but E flat key.

Their smooth interplay of words in Tagalog and English and scatting were quite enjoyable that we wished they could have done another song.

I loved this part, “What you don’t know, nor even forsee/Is that those who sing out of tune also have a heart/I took a picture of you with my Rollei-Flex/It exposed your huge ingratitude.”  It made me recall my ingratitude toward a female singer who bravely sang to show support for suicide prevention, but missed her high notes.

Tonight, only love and gratitude prevailed, mostly to God’s perfect timing.

Indio-Genius in the David’s family

Indio-genius is another word for Sariling Dwende, Lorca’s term for the creative force in every man, writes Randolph David in “Silence” (2004). That creative force has animated every David concert, including his two children, Carlo and Nicole.

Two days before David’s 64th birthday, one saw tears from him, about to stream down, yet he did not fully let go, when he sang “That’s What God Looks Like to Me,” composed by Lan O Kun and words by Lois Irwin.

David attributed his composure to the influence of Aurelio Estanislaus (his voice teacher and mentor at the University of the Philippines’ College of Music).

When David sang “One day as I walked with my son hand in hand/ He said, there are things that I don’t understand/How high is the sky? What makes it so blue?/And tell me, dad, what does God look like to you?” I could feel him personally singing to Paolo (in the audience), and Carlo (expected to arrive from the Philippines the next day).

David’s singing these lyrics resonated well: “His heart like a mountain so vast and so strong/That’s why all his children have room to belong/ His smile is the morning we waken to see/But you, my son, you are what God really looks like to me.”

Unbeknownst to the audience, Carlo David won the Grand Prize as the best Song Writer of the ASOP (A Song of Praise) Competition, with his original composition, “Dahil Sa Iyo,” on November 13.

Jungee Marcelo, a judge, critiqued Carlo’s composition during the April 2017’s semi-finals. “It is very up and about, joyful, masaya, uncommon style, thanksgiving and gives credit to the One who gave you everything. I like the imagery, naglalakbay, journey, asking the Lord as you reflect, and consider cause and effect in song writing. I wished I was the one who wrote this song [of Carlo David],” Marcelo said.

Judges Trina Belamide, found the rock aspects unique and laudable, while Mon Del Rosario considered Carlo an advanced songwriter and commended him for the lyrical chorus for easy recall by the listeners.

On Nov. 13, Jay R sung “Dahil Sa Iyo,” Carlo’s original composition, which became the Song of the Year for ASOP 6th Year. The competition finals were watched by 16,500 at the Araneta Coliseum. As if a Thanksgiving gift, God’s perfect timing was spot on.

When Nicole David Yalong joined her father onstage, she said: “I asked my dad what is his blessing and his curse? ‘Jazz,’ he responded.” She credits him as her example of consistency, righteousness, love of family, and sustained professionalism towards his craft.

Nicole, dressed in a sexy black lace outfit, hit her first notes in perfect pitch. Her smooth, velvety voice gently rocked us to a serene, soft spot with Johnny Mandel’s “A Time For Love”: “A time for climbing hills/For leaning out of windowsills/Admiring daffodils above/A time for holding hands together/A time for rainbow colored weather/A time to make believe that we’ve been dreaming of.”

I imagined her breastfeeding her twins, 9-month-old Leo and Nico, both vibrant and thriving under her care, as observed by this writer, on a visit one sunny morning.

Nicole shared how her father took his gentle approach of asking her about the song – did she like it, and in between breastfeeding, changing diapers, catching up on sleep, nature walks with the twins, cooking, baking, washing dishes, even gym exercises and lifting weights, she learned the lyrics. She took extra steps of posting them on her bedroom wall and kept singing to her twins. Her approach plus her dad’s worked.

David sang Tito Arevalo’s “Minamahal, Sinasamba,” a song of love and courtship to his wife, Ann that many of us, wished for similar romantic gestures from our partners. His public show of affection (PSA) elicited tears from his wife, who was visibly touched, particularly when he declared: “She is my co-pilot in life and as it turns out, a much stronger one than me!”

Happy birthday Mon David — your life speaks loudly about the integrity of your heart!

This Thanksgiving, Nov. 2017, Mon David’s family table is complete.

From their table to yours, I dare say Happy Thanksgiving to you, our loyal Asian Journal (AJ) readers. This year marks my 10th year of writing this column for AJ, dakal a salamat in Kapampangan, the language of the birth province of Mon David and family.

* * *

Prosy Abarquez-Delacruz, J.D. writes a weekly column for Asian Journal, called “Rhizomes.” She has been writing for AJ Press for 9 years now. She contributes to Balikbayan Magazine. Her training and experiences are in science, food technology, law and community volunteerism for 4 decades. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of the Philippines, a law degree from Whittier College School of Law in California and a certificate on 21st Century Leadership from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She has been a participant in NVM Writing Workshops taught by Prof. Peter Bacho for 4 years and Prof. Russell Leong. She has travelled to France, Holland, Belgium, Japan, Mexico and 22 national parks in the US, in pursuit of her love for arts.

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