Two years after the release of their debut album, the members of Kiss The Bride are still
passionately nurturing their ‘storied romance’—an intense love affair with their brand of
contemporary instrumental jazz.
With just as much ardor, Tony Razon, keyboardist/composer and de facto bandleader, picks
up from where Stories left off, spinning more imaginative musical yarns with their
much-awaited follow-up album titled Subway, featuring compelling performances from band
members Kingsley delos Santos (bass), Otep Concepcion (drums), Uly Avante (percussion),
Cecile Rodgers (second keyboards) and Joey Puyat (guitar).
The fruition of the band's creative efforts wouldn't have been possible without the overall supervision
and mentorship of good friend and album producer Mari Lagdameo, who has been largely responsible
for supporting the band's initiatives in the local jazz circuit.
Just like the proverbial maze of trains plying the underground urban jungle with clockwork precision,
Subway offers new sights (and sounds) around every bend, each destination opening doors to new
musical vistas colored by a rich tapestry of moods and emotions.
As Tony explains, “Think about it. There you are, sitting in your bunk, and every time the doors open,
you’re presented with a new picture. If you could put all those moments in freeze-frame and set them to
music, they would probably sound like this.”
Inspired in large part by Tony’s frequent travels abroad, Subway could aptly be called the soundtrack of a very personal travelogue, each song a fragment of a musical Rorschach inkblot that all tie up into a coherent whole.
While jazz pundits could easily pigeonhole Kiss The Bride’s tunes as ‘smooth jazz,’ a cursory listen to any of the new tracks reveals a smattering of influences and stylistic hallmarks borrowed from classical music, particularly the ample use of several movements to expound on any given melodic theme or motif.
Lush horn work add even more depth and timbre to Kiss The Bride’s beefed-up arsenal, courtesy of Michael Guevarra,
one of the most in-demand sax players in the live concert circuit these days, and US-based Andrew Dixon,
whose short-lived tenure with the group proved to be a rewarding experience nonetheless.
For his part, fusion guitarist Joey Puyat takes pride in the creative aspect: streamlining the melodies and ‘making the
| jigsaw puzzle tighter.’ He muses, “I like this music because when I listen to it, it gets me in the gut. I weave my own
| stories. Sometimes people tell us, “whatever that music was, it was an experience, it was a journey.”
Cecile Rodgers, band manager and second keyboardist, adds: “What makes the collaborative effort work even better is
that these guys are all technically-gifted, respected and well-known in the industry, yet with Kiss the Bride, they are able
to leave their egos at the doorstep. Their modesty, humility and self-effacing wit and humor bring a certain level of maturity
and depth to the overall musical equation.”
Unlike other jazz groups which highlight their soloists' extensive and often indulgent solos, Kiss The Bride's key players
prefer shorter but meatier solos, to let the song and the arrangement take centerstage, thereby putting more focus on
synergy and interplay.
“Egos are good,” Joey elaborates on the subject of restraint. “That’s what gives you swagger. You need to project your
own musicality. But it’s really more of a challenge if your stage to project yourself is limited, because you have to be
deliberate. You have to be concise. You have to deliver your message in a short period of time. It goes beyond
chops at times because your cooking time is all set.
The recording process proved to be a learning experience for everyone. With the help of studio engineer/drummer
Harald Huyssen (who also sits at the faculty of UST’s Jazz Department), the band members were each able to dial in a
good tone, and find their respective spaces in the total mix. Of their newfound musical ally (who also played drums on
two tracks), Joey remarked, “It’s different when you’re talking to the guy behind the console, and he’s a musician.
He can almost second-guess you.”
Aside from their regular fortnightly gigs at Strumm’s Makati, Tony and his band also shared
their unique approach to composition and improvisation at a recent concert/workshop
at the UST College of Music.
Subway’s eleven tracks include ‘The Awakening,’ ‘Una Sonrisa Suave,’ ‘Subway,’
‘Devil Darlings,’ ‘Mickey and the Technorats,’ ‘Mornings with Uncle Bob,’ ‘If Only She Could Stay,’
‘Freddy-Come-Knockin’,’ ‘Adios Carnaval,’ ‘White Crosses,’ and ‘The Christmas Secret.’
Guest vocalist Arla Concepcion shines in ‘If Only She Could Stay,’ while Martin Nievera and Celine Fabie
duet in ‘The Christmas Secret.’
In line with their album launch, Kiss The Bride will be holding a bar tour at Strumm’s Makati
(September 17), Raffles Hotel’s The Long Bar (September 21), and Balete at Kamias (September 25).