Bob Aves

Inner Country

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In 2000, Philippine male musician Bob Aves released Inner Country, the first jazz album to feature Philippine indigenous instruments, played here with such "modern" instruments as the electric guitar, piano, soprano saxophoneand bass.

The indigenous instruments include the kudlong, a lute-like instrument with two strings; the kulintang, which consists of brass gongs laid-in-a-row (eight gongs were used here); and the gabbang, an xylophone-type instrument made of bamboo; as well as the nose flute and bamboo chimes, among others. (Variations of these instruments can be found throughout the Philippines).

In addition to the Philippine indigenous instruments, heard on "Damgu," are the okonkolo and dundun drums, which are African in origin and were brought to Cuba via the slave trade.

Some of the country's top jazz musicians play here, including saxophonist Tots Tolentino, who has toured Asia in a combo headed by renowned Japanese jazz trumpeter Teramasa Hino; bassist Colby de la Calsada and pianist Bond Samson.

Inner Country puts forth an exciting concept. Unfortunately, the music itself isn't very interesting. The jazz, as heard on "Traveling Light," "Wave Song" and others, is of a pop-jazz nature and too simple. It is also incredibly cliched, as this type of pop-jazz was first heard in the mid-to-late 1970's, and nothing new or interesting is added here.

The two best songs, "An Invitation" and "In Silence," concentrate on an Asian-sounding perspective and are interesting and exotically hypnotic. Inner Country is a commendable first step, but more needs to be done.

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